When I ate a certain vegetable in Italy, as a child, I knew very clearly, in no uncertain fashion, that it was called a ‘melanzana’. In other words, if I said ‘melanzana’, people would understand and know what I meant.
Not so when it came to naming the very same vegetable in English.
When I ate the same vegetable in West, and then later East, Pakistan, growing up as I did in these countries on and off until the age of 13, that very same vegetable would be called ‘brinjal’.
Then, later, NOT eating that vegetable EVER while at boarding school for six years in England … I came to know it by the name of ‘aubergine’, which of course is French.
And then, later still, via American friends, I came to learn that it is also called an ‘eggplant’.
Mmmm. Percy Bysshe Shelley said that “A single word even may be a spark of inextinguishable thought” … and hats off to his unbounded linear and non-linear thinking. But to my more pedestrian frame of mind, the only inextinguishable thought was:
Oi! Brinjal, aubergine, eggplant … oh for goodness sake! can’t we make up our minds! And why oh why an ‘eggplant’ for crying out aloud? the vegetable is a very dark purply plum colour! what on EARTH convinced someone to call it an ‘eggplant’? What was he or she thinking? or drinking? or … otherwise incorporating into his or her body? Search me … sigh.
And then I read an article … just over a month ago: Eureka!
And then this … take a look … :
And it’s shape not unlike an egg. Hence … an aptly, as it turns out, named EGG-plant!
I am in my 55th year and I had never seen one until last week … or even heard of its existence. It’s so true that ‘we live, and we learn’, as Noel Coward is supposed to have said to his travel agent upon gleaning some trivial peace of information from him. “Yes,” was the unexpected retort to this wise old adage, “and then we die and forget it all”. But before dying, I think it not unreasonable to pose oneself the following question:
So … what does one do with a white … melanzana, brinjal, aubergine, eggplant? I don’t know about you, but this is what I did.
It’s a good job that we can’t talk with our mouths full (that is, not unless we give in to being uncouth) … that way, we can just enjoy this delicious vegetable without worrying whether it’s a brinjal …. or an aubergine … or an eggplant.
If you want to know more about this vegetable, however, here is a link to a very good article: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/chronicaeggplant.pdf