The Eggplant

The Eggplant (Solanum melongena) or aubergine is so called because the first varieties known to English-speaking people bore colorful eggshaped fruits.
First cultivated in India and China in early times, the eggplant was only known to the Western World about 1,500 years ago. The numerous Arabic and North African names for it, and the lack of Greek and Roman names, indicate that it was carried into the Mediterranean area by Arab Muslims in the Dark or early Middle Ages.
Melongena, now part of the scientific name, was a 16th-century Arabic name for one kind of eggplant. One of the oldest records about eggplant is in a Chinese book of the 5th century. The next oldest records are from Arabia in the 9th, 10th, and 12th centuries.
Muslims carried the eggplant westward as far as Spain, where it was known in the 12th century. From here it became popular throughout Europe with the end of Muslim rule in Spain. The Spaniards took it to South America in the 1600’s where it is grown, eaten and enjoyed today. North America got it in the 1800’s.