Wednesday, September 1, 2010

You May Call It Eggplant, But I Call It Aubergine

Last weekend Boy and I stopped by the local farmers' market in the town near Darlington, as we usually do most Saturdays when the weather is nice.  Ours is a vibrant, thriving farmers' market and a terrific source for locally grown vegetables, fruits, flowers, meats, and eggs, as well as locally made cheeses, baked goods, and delicious organic foods not found in mass-market supermarkets.  We are lucky to have such a good farmers' market nearby, and we enjoy supporting it.

Now, I know that such markets are all the rage these days and that everyone is mad for locally raised food and all that, but Reggie isn't exactly new to this particular party, for he has shopped at farmers' markets since the one at Manhattan's Union Square--the granddaddy of all such things here in New York--opened in the early 1980s.  Reggie, of course, more than approves of the locavore movement in this country, and he strives to support whenever possible purveyors of locally sourced, raised, and grown, organic, non-industrial-food-complex comestibles.  And Reggie is thrilled with the success and momentum of the food revolution that continues to take place in this country.

Our local farmers' market was founded but a few years ago and has grown to become a truly excellent one in the short time it has been in business.  One of the more recent additions to the market's vendors includes a seller of heirloom vegetables who last weekend offered a mound of glossy, round, deep-purple aubergine displayed on her table, the likes of which neither Boy nor I had seen before.  She said it was Sicilian eggplant, particularly good for grilling.  Of course, Boy and I call this vegetable (well, fruit, actually) aubergine, as we find it amusing and rather recherché to refer to vegetables (or in this case fruit) by the names more commonly used for them in England (one's mother country, after all), instead of on this side of the pond.  Wouldn't you much rather eat courgette instead of zucchini?  I would.  And I do.

Anyway, we decided this aubergine was so gorgeous that we had to give it a try.  So we brought one home with us, sliced its creamy-white, sweet, and meaty flesh--remarkably low in seeds and moisture, I might add--brushed it with extra-virgin olive oil, and browned it on a sizzling-hot grill.  After we took it off the heat we drizzled it with just a bit more olive oil and seasoned it with a grinding of pepper and a dash of fleur de sel, and served it with several sprigs of curly purple basil, grown in pots at Darlington, that added a delicious licorice element to the dish.

I say, Dear Reader, I don't care what one calls it, I thought it was perfectly mahvelous.

All photographs (and cooking) by Boy Fenwick


  1. Tiptoeing through this common language/barrier...I call it aubergine too. I think "eggplant" is very American. I certainly use courgettes, not zucchini, too. Tomaahto, Tomayto etc etc etc, as Yul Brynner, aka the King of Siam, (Hollywood) said.

    Talking of which, have you ever tried Baba Ganoush? Don't bother. Humous is much more fun.

  2. Reggie, darling, what would MD say?!

  3. We love Farmer's Markets as well -- and what a beautiful eggplant. Isn't it great to buy produce from someone who knows the NAME of what they're selling! We're lucky on the prairie that we have a great (although small) market twice a week!

  4. Reggie, good morning.

    I disagree with Columnist (in the most friendly way, you undersatnd) for I think a smokey babaganoush properly made from charred and skinned aubergine is one of the most delicious things in the world.

    The Celt prefers courgette in salad instead of cucumber - I, of course, find courgettes utterly tedious and so for thirty-two years we have alternated the two vegetables in salads.

    As to tomotoes - I finally flavourful "heirloom" tomatoes at the neighbourhood farmers' market.

  5. I don't know which is more fantastic, Boy's cooking or Boy's product photography! Two thumbs way up.

  6. Call it what you will, I say that Boy's photo of the knife and purple thingie is fahbulous.

  7. Beautiful photos and 'color' whatever the name. Great still-life material!

  8. You could paint a room eggplant or aubergine, and I'd say I thought the aubergine looked better.

    (I saw someone on the metro-north saturday wearing belgians. Reminded me of your post! He was carring two ears of corn (is there an english way to say?), no doubt to cook at his dear friends house and eat on the rooftop terrace.)

  9. Columnist: Reggie adores hummus, in almost any form and under any circumstances. Sometimes, he admits, he even eats it out of the container whilst standing at the open ice-box door.

    Anon 8:25: Since MD was not immune to linguistic playfulness herself, she would have recognized that Reggie was having a bit of fun...until she had enough and would say as much.

    Martha: How nice for you!

    Blue: I shall be over shortly to sounds delicious.

    Patsy/LPC/JL: Boy thanks you, as do I.

    D-H: Reggie is flattered that you thought of him, at least he thinks so. I believe such a vegetable as you describe is properly referred to as "maize."

  10. Whatever you do call it, it looks scrumptious. I can't think of any way I don't love to eat it! And kudos for supporting your local farmer's market! There is always something delightful to see here.

  11. Darling Reggie
    My mother always used French names when she thought it would impress us (or convince us to eat something no one else in our little town in the 1950's was having for dinner).
    This was not always a success but we did eat aubergines instead of eggplant which is sort of an ugly word.

  12. Such synchronicity between us, Reggie, my dear. I did virtually the same thing with a couple of cute little aubergines from our farmer's market just a couple days ago. And delicious they were (and so pretty with their little grill marks.)

  13. I doubt MD would have had much to say on the eggplant/aubergine issue. She had a deep suspicion of this vegetable no matter what it was called. I don't remember ever eating it Chez Darling, although this may have been been due to Father's insistence on a "meat and two veg" dinner ala the 1950s

  14. Stephanie: We all are richer for the labors of our farmers, and supporting them is something I believe we all should do to the extent we are able to.

    GRAYSONFAVOUR: Reggie loves the idea of referring to one's food in French. He must see what he can do about that. BTW, it is time to get your blog back up and running!

    DED: delicious, lovely, divine aubergine!

    Anon 8:41: MD was not exactly an adventuress when it came to food, in my experience, particularly in her dotage. In fact, I came to realize over time when I was exposed to others' cooking that she was, in fact, a lousy cook.

  15. Lovely photos -
    Has Boy procured a new camera? Very nice.

  16. I prefer aubergine to eggplant, but zucchini to courgette. Cilantro also sounds sexier than coriander. Good for you making the aubergine taste good - that's an accomplishment.

    Your relationship with Boy sounds dreamy . . farmer's markets, cooking, French . . . so enviable.

  17. We have here small white aubergines the shape of an egg, and about the same size and colour.

    Perhaps they truly are "eggplants"?

    You might also be interested in:

    "The name eggplant, used in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada refers to the fact that the fruits of some 18th century European cultivars were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen's eggs. The name aubergine, which is used in British English, is an adoption from the French word (derived from Catalan albergínia, from Arabic al-baðinjān from Persian bâdenjân, from Sanskrit vātiga-gama). In Indian, South African and Malaysian English, the fruit is known as a brinjal, which derives directly from the Portuguese "beringela". Aubergine and brinjal, with their distinctive br-jn or brn-jl aspects, derive from Persian and Sanskrit. A less common British English word is melongene which is also from French (derived from Italian "melanzana" from Greek "μελιτζάνα" from Arabic al-baðinjān). In the Caribbean Trinidad, it also goes by "meloongen" from melongene.

  18. Dear janfaw: Thank you for your comment. I am always a bit non-plussed about the cilantro/coriander thing. Never quite sure what to call it. My first reaction always is, "why are you calling that cilantro, everyone knows it's coriander" and then Reggie finds that people don't know what he's talking about. But, then, that happens rather a lot, or at least more than he cares to admit.

    Columnist: I became absolutely giddy reading your (second) comment here, thank you for the superb education!

  19. Au contraire, Reggie! MD was quite a culinary adventurer. She always wanted to try new cuisines and visit little out of the way restaurants. Perhaps you do not remember her Japanese cooking lessons at the Mikado in the 1960s. Or her asking friends to bring little dried peppers from Liberian markets so she could make her special African stew.
    Even during her final years when she was basically housebound, she would always request a take out meal from a local sushi place.
    Like many women of her generation and class, she had never cooked a meal until she married and taught herself from The Joy of Cooking. Blame any boring meals on our father who was extremely conservative in his eating habits.

  20. Camilla, my dear, while I appreciate your rushing to MD's defense, as you are a good and devoted daughter, I beg to differ. I believe we ate better when there were others in the kitchen doing the cooking besides our dear MD.

  21. Reggie and Camilla: While I am second to none in my appreciation of MD's cooking, if the truth be told she never quite mastered the joys of the spice cabinet. Was it really Father's doing that our childhood exposure to Italian cuisine began and ended with Franco-American Spaghetti from a can? Gastronomically yours,


  22. Only compliments for you dear Reggie! I can't wait to get a (my first) pair!

  23. One of my Indian neighbor calls it "brinjols", whatever people call it, eggplant makes some great recipe in panini or baba ganoush.


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