The Mysterious History of Eggplants

The Mysterious History of Eggplants

Nov 08, 2021Jonathan Englert

You may have recently used this fruit, yes fruit, in your kitchen. You may also know it by another name: Aubergine, brinjal, solanum melongena, or guinea squash. But did you know the eggplant’s origin is a bit of a mystery?

Eggplants have been grown for a very long time, dating back to 50 BCE; but the whereabouts of their native land remains uncertain.

They have grown in Asia and Africa for yonks, although not always appearing as the long, dark-purple, oval-shaped fruit we know today. The original plant got bigger and changed in color, taste, and feel after being domesticated in India and China.

Today, eggplants have a sweetness to them, which comes from the dark purple color, but the first eggplants were small, more oval shaped, and white - similar to an egg!

Which brings us to how eggplants got their modern name. 

Some eggplants truly look like an egg when they are cultivated to be smaller and white, which is why Europeans used the name “eggplant” to refer to the fruit.

However, as a fruit with many names, it is common to hear aubergine in the UK and brinjal in India.

You don’t need to fuss too much to enjoy this purple plant: Eggplants love to be thinly sliced and roasted with a generous drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper (or your favourite seasoning).

Now you'll have something interesting to share next time you cook eggplant for dinner!

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