Eggplants come in a number of varieties: the black Italian variety, the dark oriental type, a Japanese variety, white Italian, purple striped Italian, purple Chinese, black Italian, and purple Italian. Though they come in many shapes and sizes, their taste is very similar. I didn't grow up with eggplant and my early attempts to cook with it were quite unsuccessful until I discovered that however you prepare eggplant, it should be cooked thoroughly - it's best mushy!
I like to toss it with a little oil and salt and bake it in the oven until a fork goes through it easily, pan fry it with garlic, or add it to stir-frys. (I add it first, after onions to make sure it is good and cooked no rubbery eggplant for me!).
Babaganoush is a classic eggplant dish. Friends who spend time in India taught us how to cook them directly on the gas range a few years ago and since then we have enjoyed a nice smoky babaganoush. Here is one recipe that explains how to do that.