Every week I read Marion Warhaft's column and I am constantly in awe of her encyclopedic knowledge of international cuisine. I was, therefore, slightly surprised that in her July 27 review of Arkadash Bistro and Lounge, Local chef gives tasty tour of the Middle East, that she did not relate the quaint legend behind the name of the eggplant-based Turkish dish imam baldi.
As Warhaft points out, the spelling comes in many variations, and I am most familiar with it as imam baaldi. "Imam baaldi" in Turkish means "the priest has fainted."
According to an anecdote connected with Middle Eastern cookery, when eggplants prepared in this way were offered to a certain imam, he was so overcome by the fragrance of the dish that he fainted from sheer gastronomic pleasure.