Saturday, December 9, 2017

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Turkish Canned Fried Eggplant

     Granted, this entry stretches the "exotic" part of the title a bit--eggplant isn't that rare a food, obviously.  But, the combination of it being fried, canned, and Turkish puts it over the boundary line, I think.  To at least "slightly unusual."
     The importing company of this food was Galil, out of New York, U.S.A., while the eggplant itself was grown and prepared in Turkey.  Galil has existed since 1985, and, "Specializes in the importation and distribution of gourmet and specialty foods from around the world."  It has many lines in its fold, including Bright Morning, Shams, Nature's Envy, Lior, and Zweet.  The products it makes include breads and cheeses, cookies/biscuits/wafers, canned fruit and vegetables, candy, couscous and pasta, cereals and breakfast foods, desserts, soups, nuts and seeds, fish, preserves, Passover products, sauces and spreads, coffees and teas, and salt and spices.  Or, to put it more succinctly, basically everything that humans eat and drink.  In addition, they distribute other companies' products, including Joyva (see June 8, 2016 post), Mentos, and many others.
    Switching to the food I consumed, eggplant is in the nightshade family, meaning it's a relative of potatoes and tomatoes, among others.  Botanically speaking, it's a berry, and its edible seeds, like others in the nightshade family, contain nicotine.  (In case you're wondering, as I was, the amount of nicotine in eggplant is tiny, so people who eat it won't become addicted, as they do with tobacco products.)  From the evidence, eggplant is thought to have been first domesticated in two separate areas, in South Asia, and East Asia.  The earliest reference to it in writing is from 544 A.D., in China.  It wasn't introduced to the Mediterranean area until the Middle Ages.  As with the tomato, there have been periods when people thought its fruit was poisonous, even though it clearly isn't (see my November 21, 2012 post for more info).  However, if eaten in large quantities the leaves and flowers of the eggplant can be toxic, due to the solanine in them.  Another health theory about eggplant, courtesy of 13th century Italian folklore, is that eating it causes insanity.  (Spoiler alert--it doesn't.)  Myths like these are presumably why one of the alternate names for this food is the "mad apple."  The eggplant fruit itself has many variations.  Some subspecies' fruits are smaller, rounder, and yellow or white colored, meaning they actually do closely resemble goose or chicken eggs.  Others are green, reddish purple, or the common dark purple, and some are shaped like a classic cucumber.  The top five producers of eggplant are China, India, Iran, Egypt, and Turkey.  Finally, I was surprised to learn that eggplant isn't that great, nutritionally speaking.  It only provides more than 10% of the Recommended Daily Allowance for one vitamin or nutrient--11% for manganese.
     I wasn't taking much of a chance buying this food, as I'm quite the fan of eggplant.  More specifically, I've eaten many pounds of it, both in eggplant parm sandwiches, or the same without the roll, as an entree.  Although I also have been disappointed sometimes--it seems to be a little tricky to make, or else maybe eggplant that isn't fresh is notably deficient in taste.  Anyway, the Galil eggplant came in a 14 ounce (400 gram) can, and besides the eggplant it contained tomato, tomato paste, onion, sunflower oil, salt, garlic, and spices.  It had a wet and soft texture, and was brownish in color.  It wasn't breaded, as it usually is in eggplant parm dishes.  It was good.  I had mine cold, right out of the can, but it was still quite appetizing.  Spicewise it had enough to make it more interesting, but not so much that it was overpoweringly hot.  I'd definitely recommend this, and will buy it again the next time I see it.  I'd also consider purchasing other Galil products.  And any insane or neurotic behaviors on my part are almost certainly from other, non-food related causes.   

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