Eggplant is a fruit that is grown in almost all parts of the world. Due to this vast availability, many people do wonder where this fruit actually comes from. Not only that, it has so many names. In North America, New Zealand, and Australia, it is called eggplant. In British, it is referred to as aubergine. In South Africa and South Asia, it is called brinjal. It is also referred to as guinea squash in South America.
Just as most other plants, eggplants do have an origin. They are said to come from India, where they are still found growing wild. They are said to have been grown in eastern and southern Asia for more than 1500 years ago. Eggplants do also have a history of cultivation in the Arabic and North African countries, as it have many names in their language.
There are no evidences for ancient Greek and Roman names for this fruit. Due to this, it is believed that eggplant was introduced throughout the whole Mediterranean land by the Arabs, during the middle age period. In the British, there was no record of eggplant until the 16th century, where it was found in a book written by an English botanist.
The popular common name, eggplant, comes from the North America, Australia, and New Zealand. It was called “eggplant” because the early European cultivars of the fruit looked somewhat like a hen’s egg. The fruits were small and yellow or white colored, just like a hen or goose’s egg.
There are now many varieties of eggplants grown in almost all parts of the world. In Europe and North America, the most cultivated cultivars are elongated ovoid, with a dark purple skin. They range in size from anything between 4.5 to 19 inches long, and 2.5 to 3.5 wide. In Asian regions, around India, much more different cultivars are grown. There are cultivars that small in size, while some can reach a whooping weight of up to a kilogram.
In terms of production, as of 2016, China is the largest producer of this wonderful vegetable. It is followed by India. After which Egypt follows, but very far away in terms of production from the top two. Other countries that made up the fourth and fifth positions are Turkey and Iran (1).
Now that you know where eggplants come from, you might want to look at some interesting articles I have written on these wonderful fruits (yes! they are botanically fruits, but used in culinary applications as vegetables):
- Are eggplants fruits or vegetables?
- Nutritional value and health benefits of eating eggplants
- Are eggplants fattening or good for weight loss?
- Are eggplants acidic? Can they cause acid relux?
- Do eggplants cause gas or flatulence?
- What to do with eggplants – simple cooking ideas!