In Italian, the word for eggplant, melanzana, means literally, "toxic apple." A member of the nightshade family, it was once believed to have caused insanity.
In Italy, I discovered how much I truly love eggplant. Luckily it is no longer attributed to madness. My friend Casey and I started an eggplant club. We were the only members. No one could love eggplant as much as we did, we joked. We had it at every meal!
Last year I had one Japanese eggplant in a container. It produced a single fruit late in the summer, which withered and died before reaching maturity. I questioned whether I should try again this year, but since I'm in a different zone now, I went ahead with it. I got two plants: a black beauty and a gretel, and planted them in the raised bed rather than a container. They are doing beautifully and producing eggplants, dare I say, like mad. We harvested the first one yesterday.
It was so beautiful and perfect, that I couldn't stop admiring it. It amazes me that I had so much trouble last year, and that this time around it has been so easy.
We put it on a homemade pizza, one of my favorite uses of fresh summer produce.