7 Interesting Facts You May Not Have Known About Aubergine, or rather, Guinea Squash…. No? What about Eggplant? (That’s fact #1)
#2. “Orient”ation of the eggplant: The cultivation and domestication of eggplant, from a small, green, prickly, bitter affair into a cultivar of many sizes, colors, and smoothness, has its earliest documentation in ancient Chinese literature. Even as early as 59 BC! Chinese botanists spent centuries documenting the process of altering the wild eggplants into more palatable and less bitter fruit. Thanks to their research and dedication, we now have a vegetarian option for chicken parm and many other eggplant dishes that most children at first detest, but hopefully grow to love!
#3. Which came first, the egg or the eggplant? While the classic eggplant you pick up at the store or market might be a deep purple color, the English name we use today came about in the 1700’s. Earlier European cultivars were small, oval-shaped, and white (or pale yellow). They started calling the fruit, “eggplant”, in reference to its description. Thus, proving once again, that simple is best.
#4. “That girl is POISON!” – Bell Biv DeVoe. Botanists would also agree, if Bell Biv DeVoe were talking about the nightshade family, of which eggplants are apart of. While eggplants themselves are not poisonous, their leaves, and even flower, can be toxic. Many plants in the nightshade family contain an alkaloid, when consumed in large doses, can be poisonous. So, stick to the eggplants, and keep the leaves on the plants!
#5. Another berry interesting fact: As with tomatoes, which are popularly mislabeled as a vegetable, eggplants are actually botanically classified as berries! And, as berries are, “a fleshy fruit that has multiple seeds on the inside, embedded in the flesh of the ovary,” we feel that there is no argument against it.
#6. Don’t quit eggplant! Just because eggplant contains nicotine, we don’t recommend that you quit eating eggplant. Just be aware to not eat more than 22 lbs in a single setting, and you should be fine, as absorption rates are low because the nicotine is quickly metabolized.
#7. Does eggplant make you crazy? Maybe crazy for more eggplant! However, because of its association with the poisonous nightshade family, its bitterness, and overall unpleasantly spongy appearance, it was touted in the Middle Ages as the cause of inflammation, illnesses, and even freckles. To quote the attached article, “The Tuaregs of the Sahara have told anthropologists that if you eat eggplant twice a day for 40 days, you’ll go crazy. They swear that somebody tried this once and at the end of 40 days he walked around naked, saying, ‘I’ve eaten eggplant twice a day for 40 days and now I’m insane.’” Luckily, that all turned around, perhaps due to a lavish wedding in the 9th century, or a well-timed Arabic poem. Either way, you’d be insane not to give it a try!