I love Baba Ghanouj. It's one of my favourite dips. I eat it with Syrian flat bread.
I was making hummus and baba ghanouj before most Americans knew what it was. I was the manager of a middle-eastern restaurant long ago. The chef and owner was Lebanese-American. One of our customers told us we needed baba ghanouj on the menu and we had never heard of it. Gerry brought in one of his old recipe books and it was in there. We made it and it was a huge hit. I will never forget the first time we made it. The eggplant was still hot when we mixed the other ingredients, which is not the proper way to serve it but it was absolutely delicious. One night when we had a packed house Gerry was in the back room watching television and I couldn't keep up so I asked him if he would prepare baba. "Prepare Barbara?" he said. So he came out and dished it onto a plate and did a completely different garnish than usual. Two kalamata olives for eyes, a carrot stick for a smile and parsley for hair. I pointed at it and said "Is that Barbara Ghanouj?" He split his sides. I shared the joke with the customers and they had a good laugh as well. I still make it for myself and friends and always serve it with a sprinkle of olive oil on top and a dash of paprika to make it look nice. Always with pita bread on the side.
Thanks for telling me that. It's interesting to hear how it made it's way to the West. I'm part Arab so I knew about it long ago. Olive oil is a must and as I said, I eat the Syrian or 'Shami' bread with it.