Eggplant is native to India. It has been
cultivated in southern and eastern Asia since prehistory but appears to have become known to the
Western world no earlier than 1500 CE. The raw fruit can have a somewhat
bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor.
Salting and then rinsing the sliced eggplant (known as "degorging")
can soften and remove much of the bitterness. Some modern varieties do not need
this treatment, as they are less bitter. The eggplant is capable of absorbing
large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, allowing for very rich dishes, but
the salting process will reduce the amount of oil absorbed. The fruit flesh is
smooth; as in the related tomato, the numerous seeds are soft and
edible along with the rest of the fruit. This recipe is absolutely delicious and
will be new family favorite.