Aubergine, feminine noun (une aubergine, l’aubergine, des aubergines) = eggplant (pronounced oh-bear-jean with a soft j, with equal stress on each syllable).
Une aubergine is used to denote a bruised and violet bump resulting from a fight (il a une aubergine au front = he has a violet coloured lump on his forehead).
Aubergine is also a colour, of course, and then becomes an invariable adjective.
No information on the etymological origins of the word seems to be available.
Une aubergine used to be the familiar name for a lady traffic warden, the kind who gives parking tickets, because of the colour of their uniform. That colour has now changed to an awful bright blue (at least you can see them coming a mile off), and they are known as pervenches (= periwinkles, a blue flower). The proper term for a traffic warden is une contractuelle. I don’t know why these are all female? Maybe just Paris? Where I live it is men that give parking tickets. Often.
My recipe is a salade marocaine aux aubergines, a Moroccan eggplant salad, called zaalouk in its country of origin.
For four people you will need
- 3 large aubergines
- 6 large cloves of garlic
- 8 large cocktail tomatoes (larger than cherry tomatoes, that you buy on the stem)
- some good quality tomato sauce, or pasta sauce
- 3tbs olive oil
- 1tbs honey
- 1tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp chopped dried whole chili
- 3tbs chopped parsley
- 2tbs chopped fresh mint
- Put a saucepan of salted water to boil.
- Cut the aubergines with their skin into dice sized cubes.
- Peel the garlic and cut three cloves in half. Finely chop the other three.
- Poach the aubergines and the halved garlic cloves for 10 minutes in barely boiling water.
- While this is going on, cut the cocktail tomatoes in half and fry gently in olive oil. When they soften, add a tbs of honey, the other three garlic cloves, finely chopped. Stir and continue to fry gently.
- Add 1tsp cumin, 1tbs chopped parsley, 1/4 tsp chopped dried chili (optional, this dish should not be hot, just full of flavour).
- Drain the aubergine and add to the pan, stir and crush the cubes with the back of the spoon.
- Add 3tbs tomato sauce and continue cooking until the aubergine is quite soft and no longer forms cubes.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve sprinkled liberally with more chopped parsley and fresh chopped mint.
This “salad” can be served hot as a vegetable with a meat dish, alone as part of a vegetarian meal, warm as a salad, or cold. It keeps well until the next day, and so can be used in two different ways. It is smooth, slightly sweet, slightly chili hot, with lots of textures and flavours to discover.