From the Editors
In news that stunned millions of listeners, NPR confirmed that the dish once known as "Baba ghannouj" (or "Spoiled Papa") is actually the recent creation of the inventive Israeli chef Yoram Ottolenghi who, in his new book, prefers to call it "Burnt Eggplant with Tahini." In an exclusive interview with NPR's Senior Levantine Food Correspondent Susan Stamberg, Ottolenghi also admitted to using pomegranate and even cilantro in his unique culinary creations, a choice that he says puts him at odds with Italians who, in contrast to the other swarthy peoples of the region, do not like to use the herb. But doubtless, it is Ottolenghi's comments on eggplant that will surely bring him attention. "The secret to the eggplant dish," he says, "is fire," since it creates a smoky flavor. Revealing all the details of this once top-secret recipe, "it's just a matter of mixing the smoky flesh with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, vegetables, plus a old-school trick that ... is becoming more popular: pomegranate molasses."
In related news, Palestinian police in Nablus, responding to complaints in Balata refugee camp, stumbled upon one of the largest and most sophisticated electronic surveillance systems ever known. Investigators dubbed the case "Leaky Kitchen" after they found dozens of tiny video cameras hidden in the kitchens of grandmothers, along with electronic transmission equipment surreptitiously placed in bags of wheat and jars of tangy olive oil.
"My God, have they no mercy? It wasn't enough to steal our pomegranate molasses idea -- did they have to take the smokey eggplant trick too?," cried one old woman as grandmothers, aunties and young brides spent much of the day consoling one another over the theft of so many tasty kitchen secrets. Though authorities have not named suspects, they did identify Ottolenghi and Stamberg as "people of interest" in the case. If proven, this could turn out to be the first culinary intelligence coup of such scale. Already, commentators are comparing its potential impact to the famous Felafel Appropriations Act of 1967, when the Israeli Supreme Court upheld an earlier military court ruling that granted all fried chickpea trademark rights to the Jewish State.
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