We see mostly dark purple coloured eggplants, either Italian (somewhat tear-drop shape), globe (large round), Japanese or Chinese (long and thin), Indian eggplant (small, round, purple), and sometimes graffiti eggplant (purple with white speckles). There are also white-skinned eggplants and a small variety of white eggplant which we can only presume that was where the name first came from.
It can grow here in Alberta but It requires lots of heat for growing and is very well-known across South Asia.
Eggplant likely originated in India. The British, who colonized India, also know it well and enjoy it. The West Indies once called it brown-jolly.
Legend has it that eggplant skin was once burned and rubbed on teeth. When it gets rubbed off, teeth are whiter! (The Secrets of the Seed Vegetables, Fruits and Nuts p 32)
Did you know that the plural word for eggplant can either be eggplants or eggplant?
Eggplant is best when cooked although can be eaten raw.
The skin of eggplants is thick and some describe it as rubbery. (Like a wet suit!) It can taste bitter and sometimes the skin is removed, or the flesh inside is scraped out like with Baba Ganoush. Older eggplants stored for a long time will also taste more bitter. The raw flesh of eggplants is very much like a sponge. It can be squeezed and it also absorbs a lot of liquid like water and oil
Once cut, eggplant oxidizes (turns brown on the exposed edges). You can counter that by brushing or dipping pieces in a lightly acidulated solution but if preparing a hot dish like moussaka or eggplant lasagna then maybe the colour will be hidden and it's not a big deal!
Lighter coloured eggplants are much creamier and milder than the dark coloured purple varieties.
To salt or not to salt?
If someone is making eggplant parmesan or moussaka, for example, they should slice it thick and before breading and deep-frying or panfrying. Salting accomplishes three things; it seasons it, it removes some bitterness, and it draws out the water. Some chefs have strong preferences one way or another but think about the desired texture, overall seasoning, and workability of eggplant slices. Eggplants that are salted and left on paper towel to desiccate (dry out) become flimsy and soggy and can tear easily.
Nightshade vegetables (like eggplants, tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes) contain solanine, a toxic alkaloid. Do not eat leaves of nightshades and do not eat green parts of potatoes.