People tend to hate eggplant, or love it. Frequently, an eggplant dish is the main dish in a meal, when no vegetarianism is intended. Its meaty texture may be responsible for this, though eggplant is not exceptionally high in protein.
Eggplant appears to have originated in China, Thailand and India 4,000 years ago. Arab traders carried it to the Turks, who created over 1,000 recipes, using 40 of these recipes on a regular basis. The Greeks and the Egyptians also became very fond of eggplant, while Italy made parmigiana part of their culture, and France’s ratatouille became legend. Eggplant’s first cousins, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers.
The eggplant’s introduction to North America was the result of slave presence in the South. About the same time, they introduced okra, black-eyed peas, benne or sesame seeds, sorghum, watermelon and the peanut. To this day, the South celebrates eggplant, and Thomas Jefferson’s Southern heirloom garden still raises white prickly eggplants.
Eggplants are fun and will test your identity skills, if you wish when you learn to identify each eggplant’s gender. It’s a seed thing. Male aubergines have fewer seeds. Female eggplants are less bitter, however, and you can try to get a jump on sweeter ones by choosing indented blossom ends which signify “female.”
The large, American eggplant requires special care, because it’s best to salt it, then drain between layers of paper towel for thirty minutes before starting your recipe. When a recipe calls for boiling the eggplant, this step is unnecessary. If you choose to fry eggplant, you must bread it, or it’ll absorb cooking oil like a sponge.
Serve eggplant baked, microwaved, stuffed, pan-fried, boiled, sauteed, marinated, or add it to stews, stir-fries, casseroles or brochettes. They’re useful for dieters, for eggplant is low in calories yet filling.
Sicilian — Large and round with striated shades of purple. Irregular shape, very tender skin, sweet and mild flavored.
White — Tougher skin but smoother, firmer flesh. Scarce.