Food
Fact-checked

At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What Do Eggplants Have to Do With Eggs?

Despite its name, eggplants share no relation to eggs. The moniker comes from white, egg-shaped varieties of the plant. Rich in nutrients and versatile in cooking, eggplants are a culinary staple worldwide. Intrigued by the eggplant's journey from garden to table? Discover how this unique vegetable earned its name and became a kitchen favorite. What's your favorite eggplant dish?

Sometimes the reasons for a name are hard to crack. Take the eggplant, for example.

It's known as aubergine in Europe, brinjal on the Indian subcontinent, and scientifically as Solanum melongena, but the name used widely in North America – eggplant – doesn't seem quite right. That's because, for the most part, we think of eggplants as large, purple, oddly-shaped, gourd-like fruits (yes, fruits) that in no way look like the white things laid by hens.

Although the eggplant is most commonly purple, some varieties are small and white, which is how it got the name.
Although the eggplant is most commonly purple, some varieties are small and white, which is how it got the name.

But if you had been one of the first westerners to take an interest in the plant, you would have seen what British colonists in India saw and then named: small, white, egg-shaped fruits. You probably won't find them at your local grocery store, but white eggplants are still grown and come in several varieties, including Casper, Easter white, and garden egg. It was mostly the purple kind shipped elsewhere, since the white ones are smaller and far more fragile. But for many centuries, white eggplants were cultivated in India for use in Ayurvedic medicine, particular for the treatment of diabetes.

What's in a (food) name:

  • Sweatbreads are the pancreas or thymus of a young animal, and they are not sweet (and obviously not breads).

  • Boston cream pie is a sponge cake, not a pie, and it's filled with custard, not cream.

  • Head cheese has no cheese in it, but it is the meat taken from the head parts of several animals, such as cows and pigs.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Although the eggplant is most commonly purple, some varieties are small and white, which is how it got the name.
      By: °linda°!°
      Although the eggplant is most commonly purple, some varieties are small and white, which is how it got the name.