VI: Eggplant

Mad apples and horny emojis -- eggplant's many names

VI: Eggplant
Eggplants. Photo by Micky White / Unsplash

Good morning. Today is sextidi, the 26th of Vendémiaire, Year CCXXXI. We celebrate l'aubergine, a vegetable that accidentally became naughty.

There's no way M. Fabre d'Eglantine intended for "eggplant on sextidi" to bring to mind what I'm certain it's bringing to mind for us now, but such is the way of euphemisms. Just as we stopped papering over naughty words with euphemistic variants like "golly" and "gosh darn" and "sheesh," along came the language of emojis and their hieroglyphic possibilities paired with corporate sensibilities. You want to say "penis" in the shortest, slyest way possible, but there's no way an emoji for that is forthcoming. Enter the 🍆, which debuted in 2010 and was already a priapic substitute on Twitter in early 2011. Also a coincidence, I'm sure, is how quickly on the calendar the 🍆 follows the 🍑.

Eggplants are hard to buy abroad. Almost no two countries share a word for the nightshade fruit that we consider a vegetable. This is even one of those instances where North Americans and Brits disagree on the basic noun.

What's even more difficult to puzzle out is why "eggplant" came to be a word at all, given that they're long, purple, and contain nothing resembling a yolk.

So let's dispense with the usual all-at-once essay and just do a listicle rundown of all the world's names for eggplants and where they come from. It's wilder than you assume.