Monday, March 22, 2010

Thank you Mr. Jefferson!

The eggplant has been known throughout history to have some very strange effects on people: some thought that eating it could cause insanity, epilepsy and fever. Yet others claimed it to be an aphrodisiac. (That's quite a range of symptoms I'd say) The notion that it would cause insanity is due to the fact that eggplant is from the nightshade family which contains many poisonous plants such as angel's trumpet and belladonna. I know I wouldn't want to be the guinea pig...I can hear it now.....oh come on give it a try...what's the worst that can happen but a few epileptic seizures and a deadly fever....umm no thanks....but if you think about it someone had to be the first....
I'm guessing the first guinea pigs were from India since that is where eggplant originated. Shortly after, it made its appearance in Asia, China and the Middle East around 500B.C. eventually making its way to Italy around the 14th century. Europeans considered the plant mala insana~ the mad apple or bad egg until about the 1600's when Louis XIV introduced it to the country and still it was not well received. It wasn't until the 1800's that our third president, Mr. Thomas Jefferson introduced the eggplant to the United States. Apparently, Jefferson was an avid gardener and was always trying to bring new vegetables and flowers to his huge gardens. Even with Jefferson's approval, the eggplant was slow to gain popularity in the states for years to come.
All I have to say is thank you Mr. Jefferson from all your fellow gardeners for giving eggplant a try. If it weren't for him we Americans may have never given it a try for fear of going insane or epileptic.... (Although I wonder who he convinced to eat it first) ..... Today there are many eggplant varieties available....below is the Rosa Bianca which I currently have growing under lights. (not my picture) The other variety we are growing is Black Beauty (my picture above). I am keeping them inside as long as possibleCheck Spelling as they are fussy plants and need lots of warm weather. Being a gardener and all I'm a little embarrassed to say this... but it wasn't too long ago that I first tried eggplant myself....not for fear of insanity but just because I never thought it would taste good...I was sure wrong.....it is most excellent on the grill. I would like to expand my horizons and learn what others have to say about about their eggplant experiences by posing the following question:

What is your favorite eggplant variety to grow and to eat and how do you like to cook it?

16 comments:

  1. I guess I'm not one to ask, as I have never eaten eggplant. I have, however, planted my first seeds and they germinated today. It's a variety I received (free) from WinterSown.org, called "Red Egg". I have no idea if I'm going to eat it or just grow it to look at ;-) Hopefully your readers will tempt me with a good recipe.

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  2. This is my first time growing eggplant too AG...It sure is pretty and its tasty too...I'm also hoping for some great recipes to try...

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  3. I tried eating eggplant last year for the first time (Italian dish ) and it was pretty good. The wife didn't like it though...

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  4. EG: Yep..I think it really depends on how it is prepared...my daughter works at an Italian restaurant and they sell lots of eggplant parmesan...I am trying to find new recipes to try it in.

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  5. Wow I lllllllove eggplant, but have never had nor seen this variety before, Yum

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  6. SA: apparently it is the choice eggplant of most chefs...I can't wait to try it :)

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  7. To tell you the truth, I'm not that big of a fan of eggplant, maybe cause I never cook with it. I'm growing Rosa Bianca this year. Hopefully I will have a revelation with the vegetable.

    I love reading American History. I'll have to find a book about Jefferson's famous garden.

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  8. We really like Apple Green, Black beauty although it never does well for us, Long Purple, and Thai long Green. This year we will be trying Millionaire (a hybrid) for the first time.

    Our favorite way to eat them is dipped in egg and bread crumbs or flour and fried. We usually do half zucchini and half eggplant. They are also great if you pre-cook them, stuff them with meat, rice, tomatoes, cheese, whatever and then bake for about 30-40 minutes...so good:)

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  9. Thomas: On the grill lightly brushed with olive oil and seasoned with a bit of sea salt and black pepper and they are great..

    Mr H: I will give that a try... stuffed eggplant sounds great...thanks!

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  10. We have some Egg plants growing, I will have to try one if I get the chance as I have never had one.

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  11. we dont even call them 'egg plants' we call them 'aubergines' :) only ever had then in moussaka.....

    x

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  12. Jake: Welcome to The Beer Garden! ...I enjoyed reading some of your blog.....I'm all for trying new foods at least once....

    Marmite: hmmm... I didn't know what moussaka was and looked it up....It kind of looks like lasagna... Do you grow any aubergines?

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  13. I have always grown "Dusky" and love it. It is a little smokier and spicier than the variety that they sell in the grocery store. This year I have an heirloom that looks similar to the one pictured in your post. I can't remember the name though.

    And favorite recipe for this veggie? Baba ganoush!! YUMMY!!

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  14. Sylvana..thanks....I am going to have to look up that variety...and I had not heard of Baba ganoush...so I looked it up and it sounds fabulous.

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  15. Hi Sunny, very interesting post (came here from AG blog). Loved reading the history. If you like Indian food, here is something we make and the region where I grew up, this dish with eggplant is a spicy mouth watering treat.
    (We call eggplants brinjals)
    http://www.nandyala.org/mahanandi/archives/2006/11/03/baby-brinjals-in-masala-sauce-gutti-vankaya/

    I am trying to grow
    Eggplant, Container "Little Prince" from
    http://www.reneesgarden.com/seeds/seeds-hm/vegCh.htm#egg

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  16. Hi Sarada and welcome to The Beer Garden! I do like Indian food...although I haven't had a lot of it... Thank you for the links..I will definitely check them out.

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