Like the tomato, to which it is related botanically, the eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a fruit, not a vegetable, though we consider it and cook it as the latter.
Unlike the tomato, however, a food that typically adds flavors to other cooked foods, the eggplant is marvelous in how it takes on flavors. It is one of cooking’s great canvases. It is mild in flavor and has been constructed by nature to be little more than a sponge. It is set up to do its job from the get-go.
Around the world, the eggplant is roasted, grilled, baked, braised, pan-fried, deep-fried, smoked and stewed. Turks brag that they have 40 ways to cook eggplant; it is ubiquitous in the cooking of both the Near and Middle East. There is no ratatouille without eggplant, no Sicilian caponata, no baba ghanoush.
Greeks make moussaka of it; the Italians are famous for their