Mildred Council, better known as Mama Dip at her legendary restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, has been nourishing everybody from Craig Claiborne to Garrison Keillor to Michael Jordan to flocks of UNC students for the past thirty years. A mecca of classic Southern dishes, Mama Dip’s Kitchen turns out platters of fried chicken, beef short ribs, and chitlins, pots of succotash and okra and tomatoes, and rich fruit cobblers and puddings, but sometimes I think I could devote an entire meal to this eggplant casserole made, yes, with canned mushroom soup. I had to learn the hard way that certain vegetable dishes (traditional string bean and almond casserole, my mother’s broccoli casserole, and certainly this eggplant casserole) never turn out right when a fresh sauce is substituted for canned soups. For heaven’s sake, don’t ask me why; it’s simply a fact of life—like it or not. When I once broached the subject with Mama Dip, she just looked me straight in the eye and said, “Aw, honey, don’t be such a snob. If something’s good, it’s good, and that’s all that matters.” Case closed. Mama Dip makes this casserole with both sliced and mashed eggplant, depending on her mood. Both are delicious.