Eggplant? Dosen’t look or taste like an egg to me. Who named this vegetable…on what criteria?
It’s shaped like an egg.
Now, can anyone explain why the Brits call it an aubergine?
The big, purple, breast-shaped eggplants are a relative of an earlier version which is rare these days. This earlier version had ovular, white fruits which resembled eggs.
Cite: Eggplants, Elevators, Etc.: An Uncommon History of Common Things. Meyers, James. New York: Hart Publishing Company, 1978. p. 110
rastahomie right about the name.
As for aubergine, from the OED:
Which can be confusing because auberge is also French for inn.
And here I thought aubergine was the French word for eggplant and that it also was the name of the color purple in French, thus they named the fruit that because it is purple! I would rather eat an aubergine if I must than something called an eggplant. I love eggs but eggplant seems to be kind of disgusting.
Eggplant:1 a : a widely cultivated perennial herb (Solanum melongena) of the nightshade family yielding edible fruit
French aubergine came from the Arabic al-bâdhinjân. (French had a way of changing al-* to au-; compare auberge, inn, with Italian albergo.)
The Arabic word came from Persian bâdinjân, and that came from Sanskrit vâtingana. The Sanskrit speakers must have made some folk eytmology with it, to look as though it’s derived from vâta, ‘wind’ (one of the humors in Ayurvedic theory). Actually, the word has a Dravidian origin, related to Telugu vanga, Malayalam valutini, Tamil vankaNam.
The Italians did some folk etymology on it too; Italian melanzana is also derived from bâdhinjân, but it was reconfigured as though it had come from Greek melanos, ‘black’. Same with the Latin botanical term for it, melongena.
Brinjal is one of the few words that exist only in “Indian English.” It came from the Portuguese beringela, from the same source as the other words above. I had seen it on labels in Indian groceries, so when I went to India, I thought brinjal was the Hindi name for it. They told me no, brinjal is English! The Hindi word for it is baingan (from Dravidian).
The nightshade family also includes potatoes, tomatoes, sweet peppers and chili peppers. And tobacco, datura, mandrake … the poor petunias must feel quite overwhelmed.
There’s an excellent restaurant in Memphis,TN, called Aubergine. The chef is named Gene, classically French trained; so he played on his born-given, the Inn concept, and the humble vegetabobble that absorbs every manner of sauce when deciding on the name.
He’s as astute with his cuisine as his nomenclature. If yer ever in Memphy, give your stomach the treat.