Eggplant, Out of Africa

Known in Britain by 1587, the “Guinea squash,” as people originally called it, white, shaped like an egg, eventually became known as “eggplant.” Around the same time, a cousin of this plant appeared, the “purple menace,” as I call it, and it took over. The “Guinea squash” receded into the culinary backwaters of Europe. The […]

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Eggplant: Passage from India

Considering that people over the centuries have blamed eggplant for “causing insanity, acting as an aphrodisiac, and serving as a dental cosmetic,”* it’s no wonder eggplant tended not to “take” in certain cultures. United States, yes. India, no. Some experts say India gave birth to eggplant, called brinjal or baingun, originally called vartaka or vrntaka. […]

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Eggplant: Mezze Time

With this post, we continue on our journey of exploration , attempting to learn where eggplant came from and how cooks over the centuries treated it. No discussion of eggplant can ignore baba ghanouj, a dish made with puréed eggplant and tahini (sesame seed paste). According to Nawal Nasrallah, author of one of the few […]

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Eggplant: An Exploration (Part I)

Eggplant is startling in its morphologic versatility and variety of taste possibilities. If you only regard it as that plump purple mystery of a thing sitting on shelves at the grocer’s, think again. Laurie Colwin, a talented food writer who died young, once wrote an essay titled “Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant,” about […]

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