Aubergine plants originate from Asia, where they have been cultivated for about 4000 years, however, they were introduced to Europe much later. We assume that the Saracens brought aubergines from Persia to Andalusia and cultivated them there. The first true evidence of their cultivation can only be traced back to 15th century Italy.
In Europe mainly aubergine varieties with the commonly known, elongated and dark purple fruits are widely established. The diversity of existing aubergine varieties may therefore be surprising. The spectrum offers a range of shapes and colours: from rounded, to egg-shaped to oblong crops, which can vary from: white to yellow, red to purple, to near black and even striped appearance, when reaching maturity.
Similar to potatoes, eggplants belong to the nightshade plants and should therefore never be consumed uncooked. Aubergines are well established in Turkish-, Mediterranean and Oriental cooking and taste delicious baked, pan-fried or roasted. Famous aubergine dishes are Ratatouille, Moussaka and Baba ghanoush, amongst others.
Aubergine plants need consistent warmth and sun exposure to produce crops. That is why they are often grown in greenhouses as annual plants, despite originally being perennials.
Interestingly, aubergines are also known as eggplants and there seems to be a diversity of names in different cultures and languages.