Photography: Sasha Gil
Because this purple veg box staple has been a stranger too long
You might think you know all there is to know about aubergines, but we’d warrant you are wrong. This large purple BERRY (yes, who knew?) brings a little med cheer to any summer dining table or barbecue, and we thought we’d share a few little known facts about it.
1 So, yes, it’s a berry, botanically speaking, but one of the nightshade family, like potatoes and tomatoes. Technically nightshades are poisonous but you’d have to eat an awful lot of the aubergines themselves and the leaves to do yourself any harm beyond a mild tummy ache brought on my overindulgence.
2 At various times aubergines have been believed to cause madness. In 13th-Century Italy it was believed to tip people into insanity and in India in the 19th Century it was noted that madness was more common in summer when aubergines were in season… Nothing to do with the heat, then?
3 Aubergines contain more nicotine than any other plant (with the possible exception of the tobacco plant). However, they aren’t dangerous, or even addictive (though they are very moreish, we find).
4 Aubergines consist of 95% water and half their volume is air.
5 Traditionally, in China, as part of her dowry, a woman must have at least 12 aubergine recipes at her fingertips before her wedding day. This sounds eminently sensible to us, unless you like to eat a LOT of ratatouille.
The picture above is of Miso-Caramel Aubergines from Jackfruit & Blue Ginger (Murdoch Books), recipe and photography by Sasha Gill. You can find the recipe in our August issue, which is on sale now.