The Case of the 🍆 – An Identity Crisis

What is it trying to hide?

The 🍆 (origins + my fav uses)

The solanum melongena is a tube-like vegetable with a glossy exterior resembling the colour of Barney. It has a texture like radish, but just slightly more moist and a little less crisp. It is an absorbent fruit.


It is the vegetable with the most nicotine. 9 kg of solanum melongena = 1 cigarette.

It is known to have originated in Africa and was first used in Southeast Asia.

According to the American Horticultural Society Encyclopedia of Gardening — Vegetables,

“A 5th Century Chinese book contains one of the oldest references to eggplant. A black dye was made from the plant, and ladies of fashion used it to stain their teeth – which, when polished, gleamed like metal.”

In China, as part of her “bride price,” a woman must have at least 12 eggplant recipes prior to her wedding day. In Turkey, “imam bayeldi,” a tasty treat of stuffed eggplant simmered in olive oil is said to have made a religious leader swoon in ecstasy. When first introduced in Italy, people believed that anyone who ate the “mad apple” was sure to go insane.

Read more here.

I discovered my love for the solanum melongena through my grandma’s cooking. I especially love it cooked with a spicy garlic soy sauce, a simple yet delicious dish perfect with rice! Most recently, she even put terung in my sayur lodeh because she knows… ❤ The vegetable is also lovely when baked or grilled for an extended period of time and added into a veggie sandwich. #Drooling.

However, I feel you can very easily steal the spotlight away from the solanum melongena if you miss out on this crucial step – always, always, always leave ample time for the (cut) vegetable to soak in some salt water before cooking to get rid of its bitterness. Although Delany from BA says that evolution of the vegetable means there isn’t actually much bitterness to remove anymore, this step is still beneficial in removing its excess moisture and seasoning the eggplant from inside out, ‘which means the creamy interior will taste every bit as delicious as the browned, caramelized exterior that you sprinkled with salt right before cooking.’ Nice.

What’s your name?

So let’s get to it, I’m sick of having to refer to it as the solanum melongena.


Most commonly used amongst the British, but apparently borrowed from the French in a bid to sound more ‘refined’. Haha, more like #aubougie…!


Most commonly used amongst the Southeast Asians. Derived from the Portuguese word ‘beringela’. Or moving further back, from the Persian word ‘badinjan’. Basically, lotsa people (the Arabs, Spanish, Portuguese…) experiencing miscommunication back in the day which resulted in mispronunciation. But I like ‘brinjal’. It carries the personality of a grounded kid that is well-liked by everyone.

(To think about: Do certain names of vegetables carry certain connotations to you?)


Most commonly used amongst the Americans and Australians. First used in the 1760s, it was used to refer to its white variety which resembles hen’s eggs but has stuck ever since, even while referring to its purple counterpart. 

‘Of these names, eggplant is the easiest to say and remember, but its prosaic descriptiveness lacks the romance and sense of history that is attached to the others.’

World Wide Words

Other Names?!

Apparently there’s more than 3 names – you can also call the solanum melongena eggfruit, gilos, guinea squash, mad apple…the list goes on.

There’s even a frikin flowchart for its names here.

You decide.

Cont. the Convo

If you could create a new name for a vegetable, what would it be?

Published by eaturcrusts

f r e e f o o d

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