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.

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