This eggplant parm has been known to send women into labor. Photo: Scalini’s.
By Joanna Prisco
After nine months of pregnancy — and its many discomforts — expectant moms are often willing to try anything to encourage their little ones to arrive. But while old wives’ tales recommend everything from climbing stairs to having sex, few natural labor-inducing techniques can claim the success that one tasty dish being served down South does.
Since 1980, Scalini’s Italian Restaurant in Cobb County, Georgia, has been cooking up a recipe for eggplant parmigiana that owners say brings on labor within 48 hours for hundreds of pregnant patrons per year.
“I guess I was the first ‘eggplant baby,’” Scalini’s manager Robert Bogino, 38, told Yahoo Food, referencing the nickname his family gave to children born after their mothers ate the dish. “It was my father’s recipe, and it’s delicious. My mom always told people she thought that was what sent her into labor.”
Scalini’s never advertised or printed on the menu that the parm will induce labor, he noted. Nevertheless, word spread of the aubergine dish’s seemingly auspicious powers.
“My husband, son and I had dinner at Scalini’s at about 5:30 p.m. on June 24, 2010,” wrote one mom on the restaurant’s website. “I didn’t expect to have our second son very soon, as I was only in my 38th week… That night, labor picked up and John Tyson (Ty) was born at 9:30 a.m. on June 25, just 16 hours after our meal. I never had time to eat my leftovers!”
Myriad online testimonials like this, along with the photos of hundreds of babies hung inside of the restaurant’s dining room, contribute to the dish’s lore. Sometimes the action starts before customers even reach dessert.
“We have had some women go into labor in the restaurant,” recalled Bogino. “One woman told me her water broke and I said ‘OK, then let’s get you out of here.’ Her husband was a fireman, so he called his buddies to come with the fire truck to pick her up but he wanted to stay and finish his dinner. He wasn’t too fazed.”
Moms living in out-of-state locales who’ve prepared the restaurant’s recipe at home have also written the restaurant later to say that they believe it induced their labor. Is there a secret to the sauce?
“Certainly, we can’t guarantee that it will work, because nothing is 100% effective, but we have had a pretty good success rate,” said Bogino.
The dish has even converted a few family doubters over the years.
“I avoided the eggplant parmigiana while I was pregnant because of the legend,“ said Bogino’s sister Brittany Newberry, 42. “I knew of the story but was skeptical that it would work for me, so it wasn’t really in my plan to try it.”
“However, I went much further past my due date than I was expecting,” she continued. “Once I was about 12 days past, I decided that I would give it a try! I went and had the eggplant on Sunday night and I went into labor later that night.”
Despite being an ‘eggplant baby’ himself, her son Nathan Holley, now 28, was also reluctant to give in to the family ritual.
“You could say there was some pressure on my wife to have an ‘eggplant baby,’” said Holley, who had worked at Scalini’s as a server for eight years and witnessed pregnant women come in for the dish every night. “But I don’t know that we ever thought too deeply about the myth.”
Still, when his wife Tiana reached the end of her pregnancy this summer, they made a point to stop in to the restaurant for lunch on June 28, 2015. True to legend, by 5 o'clock the next morning there was a new member of the family.
Eggplant Parmesan alla Scalini’s
3 medium size eggplants
1 cup of flour
6 eggs, beaten
4 cups fine Italian bread crumbs, seasoned
8 cups of marinara Sauce (see below)
½ cup of grated Romano cheese
½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese
½ lbs of mozzarella cheese shredded
2 cups of ricotta cheese
After you wash the eggplant, slice them into ¼ inch thick slices. You may choose to peel the eggplant before you slice it, however you may want to leave the skin on since the skin contains a lot of vitamins.
Place the eggplant slices on a layer of paper towels and sprinkle with a little salt, then cover with another layer of paper towels and hold it down with something heavy. This will drain the excess moisture. Let them set for about an hour.
Working with one slice of eggplant at a time, dust with flour, then dip in beaten eggs, then coat well with bread crumbs. Saute’ in preheated olive oil on both sides until golden brown.
In baking dish, alternate layers of marinara sauce, eggplant slices, ricotta, parmesan, and romano cheeses, until you fill the baking dish about an 1/8 inch from the top. Cover with shredded mozzarella cheese and bake for 25 minutes in 375ºF oven. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.
Scalini’s Marinara Sauce
2 tablespoons of chopped garlic
3 tablespoons of olive oil
8 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 cup onions chopped
½ cup of fresh chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of oregano
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper
1/8 cup of fresh chopped sweet basil
Pinch of thyme
Pinch of rosemary
One teaspoon salt
One teaspoon black pepper
Lightly saute’ the onions in olive oil in large pot for a few minutes. Add garlic and sauté another minute.
Add tomatoes and bring sauce to boil, then turn heat to low. Add remaining ingredients, stir, cover and let simmer for one hour, stirring occasionally.
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