It’s Foodie Friday Fun time again, thank goodness. Today I want to write about a dining issue we had here and how it made a great business point.
My family has very diverse meal preferences. We have a vegan, a vegetarian, one who won’t eat eggs if they’re discernible (but loves meat), and an omnivore (that would be me!). Even though two of the four are not usually around for dinner, finding dishes that the vegetarian and I can share is a challenge. I avoid most pasta these days but since we both love Italian food I thought eggplant parmesan might be a good choice. That’s when I was told that eggplant is on the “slimy foods I don’t like” list.
My solution was to alter the preparation method. Even though I was taught the dish in the traditional way (slice the eggplant and fry it first), I changed it up. I salted the eggplant, which is not unusual, but I did so to condense it a bit, not to make it less bitter (which I think is a myth). I breaded it and let it dry on wire racks before baking the slices in a minuscule amount of oil. They came out of the oven looking as if they’d been fried as usual. From there it was just sauce, a couple of kinds of cheese, and a little more oven time. She loved it – and it’s now a favorite meal although it takes a lot of time to make.
That’s what cooking – and business – is all about. You listen to your customers and try new methods to adjust the product or service to their needs. What I heard when she said “slimy” was “greasy” and “oily.” That comes from the frying and isn’t inherent in the eggplant. What happened when we removed that impediment? Total bliss. That’s what we need to do as businesspeople as well. Listen carefully and hear what people mean, which may be different from what they say.
I’ve made adjustments to many other dishes – kale and white bean stew to which I add the sausage (definitely NOT vegetarian!) later. Using flax seeds and water to replace eggs for thickening (and it’s vegan!). My job at mealtime is to keep my family happy and fed and I’m willing to think differently and to work a little harder on the meal to do so. Your job is to keep your customers in that same state. Are you prepared to change your thinking to do that?