The best thing about eggplant? Its ability to transform the flavours around it! Eggplant a truly versatile plant worldwide. Eggplants are in peak season from late summer to early fall in Ontario. Here are 6 facts you might not know about the multitalented comestible.
- Italians once believed that eggplants made you insane. The Italian word for eggplant is, Melanzana, which translates to 'apple of madness’. Their reasoning: eggplants are nightshades like potatoes and tomatoes, which are close relatives to many toxic nightshade plants.
- Eggplant is a berry. Just like blueberries, watermelon, and tomatoes, an eggplant is botanically considered a berry. Gastronomically - though - it’s a vegetable.
- The first wild eggplant was a small prickly topped fruit. The eggplant was first documented in India 4000 years ago where it continues to grow wild. The wild eggplant is a small, and round green, white, and violet fruit.
- Eggplants were once used to dye teeth for fashion. In the American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Gardening Vegetables, a black dye was made from the plant and ladies from 5th Century China used it to stain their teeth - "when polished, gleamed like metal".
- Eggplants are reported to have the highest level of nicotine of any other vegetable. But don't fret. The levels are so small that you would have to eat between 20 and 40 pounds of eggplant to equal the amount of nicotine you'd get smoking one cigarette.
- Eggplants contain a rare antioxidant. One of the most studied eggplant health benefits is this veggie’s rich source of antioxidants. The eggplant has a remarkable antioxidant known as Nasunin - a potent fighter of inflammation and oxidative stress. This antioxidant also helps absorb iron in the body. Nasunin is found on the skin of the eggplant, mostly in the dark purple varieties so no need to peel in them.
Eggplants are eaten worldwide in some of the best culinary dishes: Sichuan stir-fries, Middle Eastern Babaganoush, Lebanese and Spanish pickles as well as Imam Bayildi in Turkey and Italian eggplant parmesan ... just to name a few!
How are we eating eggplant these days? We are turning them into fries! These are best shared and dipped into vegan harissa aioli!