Yes, eggplant is a fruit. It’s considered a cousin to the apple. In fact, in Italian, melanzana was interpreted as mela insana ‘crazy apple’, and that translates into English as mad apple. In 13th century Italian traditional folklore, the eggplant was believed to cause insanity. And yet it is a food that is used a lot in Italian cuisine. No comments here on crazy Italians.
People are still afraid of this fruit, some steer clear of it altogether. This robust vegetable actually has a mild earthy flavor. I guess it can be an acquired taste, but if cooked properly, is delicious.
A few notes from Wikipedia: The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, or even an astringent quality, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, making for very rich dishes, but salting reduces the amount of oil absorbed. Many recipes advise salting, rinsing and draining the sliced fruit (a process known as “degorging”) to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness of the earlier cultivars. Some modern varieties—including large purple varieties commonly imported into western Europe—do not need this treatment.
Eggplants from our summer garden.
There is a wide range of shapes, sizes and colors. Varieties span from white to purple in color and round to oblong in shape. Look for firm, glossy and blemish-free skin when buying eggplants. It should feel heavy for its size.
If you are not a fan of eggplant, I encourage you to try it sometime.