August has many savory seasonal offerings and one of my very favorites is the delicious eggplant. This is an ingredient that can be cooked in so many different ways and can be incorporated into a variety of dishes of multiple coultures.
The eggplant, aubergine, melongene, brinjal or guinea squash (Solanum melongena) is a plant of the family Solanaceae (also known as the nightshades) and genus [[Solanum]]. It bears a fruit of the same name, commonly used in cooking. As a nightshade, it is closely related to the tomato and potato. It is native to India.
It is a delicate perennial often cultivated as an annual. It grows 40 to 150 cm (16 to 57 in) tall, with large coarsely lobed leaves that are 10 to 20 cm long and 5 to 10 cm broad. Semi-wild types can grow much larger, to 225 cm (7 ft) with large leaves over 30 cm (12 in) long and 15 cm (6 in) broad. The stem is often spiny. The flowers are white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The fruit is fleshy, has a meaty texture, and is less than in diameter on wild plants, but much larger in cultivated forms.
The fruit is botanically classified as a berry and contains numerous small, soft seeds which are edible, but have a bitter taste because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids; this is unsurprising as it is a close relative of tobacco.
The Eggplant : courtesy of SocialEats