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The Story of EGGPLANT
Few vegetables have preserved their exotic allure as well as the regal aubergine. A member of the deadly nightshade family, the eggplant (once dubbed the mad apple) is a vegetable of dubious origin. Some claim it originated in China 4,000 years ago and was introduced into the Mideast by Arab traders in the 8th century. Others say it originated and was domesticated in India. Little known in the Mediterranean world, it was introduced into Spain and North Africa in the Middle Ages by Arab traders and it quickly took hold in the countries bordering the Mediterranean. By the 16th century, it was consumed appreciatively by Spaniards and Italians.
The eggplant is considered to be closely related to tomatoes and potatoes. It has a pleasantly bitter taste and spongy texture and since it is harvested ripe, it is best eaten soon after purchase. Look for a plump, heavy, unwrinkled vegetable that feels quite firm to the touch.
- Like all members of the nightshade family, it is considered a fruit.
- The Turks are said to have 1,000 recipes for eggplant and regularly cook about 40.
- One serving (about 100 g) contains only 28 calories.
- It is a good source of Folacin and Potassium and phytonutrients, which have antioxidative properties.
- It is almost 95% water.
- China is the #1 producer of eggplant in the world.