Email 24th September 2003

Subject: Fish 2003 - Compost Corner

Dear Freaks, Fishheads, Fans and the Company,

Well what can I say? I was deluged with responses to my queries on American/ British names for courgettes/zucchini/aubergines and egg plants and would like to provide the following information as supplied by those credited below! Definitely one to break the ice at transatlantic dinner parties! :-)

"Courgette" comes from the French "courge" meaning gourd, from the Old French "cohourde", in turn from the Latin "cucurbita". I presume this is because we were invaded by the Normans.

The Americans were very influenced by Italian culture, hence they use the Italian term "zuchinni". It is the plural of "zucchino", which is a diminutive of "zucca" (gourd), which is from the Late Latin "cucutia".
"Aubergine" is also French in origin. The word derives from the Catalan "albergina", which comes from the Arabic al-binjn. The fact Americans call it eggplant is probably due to the fact that it smells vaguely of egg when frying! - Matthew Harffy

"Further to my earlier missive, I have learnt more on the origin of the name of the aubergine, which I thought could be of use to you in your endless searching for more vegetable knowledge. (Thanks to my colleague N. Federico for this deeper insight.)
Egg Plant: Historically, the 5th century Chinese were the first to write about eggplants. Its mild flavor adds a harmonious accent to spicy overtones of Asian cooking. When eggplants eventually found their way to the Mediterranean, they fit in well with the equally zesty cuisines of Greece, Italy and Spain and were cooked into many recipes we are familiar with today.
The most popular; the Greek Moussaka and the Italian Eggplant Parmesan, are both served at Nabeel's. Although classified as a vegetable, eggplant is technically a fruit. Eggplants have nothing to do with eggs, unless you count the baby white, which gave the fruit its name. Even eggplant's British name, aubergine, traces its root to an Arabic word meaning "eggplant."
The following are the best known varieties of eggplant:
Chinese eggplant: resembles a small zucchini. This version has a thin, pleasant skin, so there is no need to peel it.
Thai eggplant: It has the shape of a golf ball. Very natural for grilling, Stir-fry or tempura.
Baby white eggplant: Small, firm, and with a sweet flesh, but its thick skin should be peeled before use.
Western eggplant: This large one is the one most of us are familiar with. Look for a smooth, glossy surface and a heavy-in-the hand weight.
Japanese eggplant: Long, slender, and a deep purple color. Its flesh is tender and slightly sweet." - again Matthew Harffy who would like to point out that he is also not obsessed! :-)

About that... Aubergine and courgette are the french words for eggplant and zucchini... for some reason they seem to have been adopted by the Scottish vocabulary... as for why... I would have to admit that I really don't know... Jean-François Larrivée

Thanks to everyone else that sent in replies! :-)

and next week's question is -
My goldfish! Pregnant? Flatulence or just a fat bastard?

love Onkel Fish xx

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