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…

Advertisements

Did Eggplants March with Alexander the Great?

No, eggplants probably didn't march with the Greek conqueror Alexander the Great, although he certainly might have eaten some as he brushed up against what is now western India. The fact that most of the names for eggplant come not from ancient Greek or Latin, but rather from Sanskrit or Arabic, attest to the spread…

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.…

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…

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…

Carnevale Goeth: A Dip into Austerity and Cucina di Magro

"Thin" kitchen, that's what the "magro" part means here. No, not a galley kitchen. Not a New York loft kitchen. Not even a Paris apartment kitchen. Skinny food. That's cucina di magro. Vegetables. Legumes. Fish. Fruit. Shellfish. The bones of the Mediterranean diet. No meat, at least none that walks around on four legs. Or…