An eggplant or aubergine is either of two species of nightshade, Solanum melongena and S. esculentum, bearing large pendulous purple or white fruit. The raw fruit has a spongelike texture and somewhat disagreeable taste, but on cooking becomes tender and develops a rich, complex flavor.
The variety that closely resembles a chicken egg in both size and shape is commonly known today as Indian eggplant. The varieties cultivated in The West today are of similar shape but both larger and darker. Chinese eggplant is shaped like a cucumber. Both Indian and Chinese eggplant usually has a color gradient , from white at the stem to bright purple to deep purple, but albino varieties also exist.
Although aubergine is the (British) English name given to this fruit, it is often invoked to describe other objects with a dark plum-colour. This name comes from the French aubergine, derived from Catalan albergínia, from Arabic al-bAdhinjAn, from Persian بادنجان Bâdinjân, the eggplant.
The word melongena is from the Sanskrit vatinganah, which has produced a number of names for this plant in various languages: brinjal, badingan, melongena, melenzana, berenjena, albergínia, aubergine, brown-jolly, and mad-apple (misinterpretation of Italian melanzana as mela insana).
Last updated: 10-11-2005 20:09:50