As the potato is to Ashkenazim, the eggplant is to Sephardim.
The eggplant is hearty and easily prepared in many ways: stewed, stuffed, pickled, roasted, pureed, you name it. The berry (yes, technically, that’s what it is) is so ubiquitous in Jewish cuisine that there’s a classic Ladino song in which the tomato and eggplant verbally battle for vegetable supremacy. According to the late, great Jewish food expert Gil Marks, this is in part because the tribe is somewhat responsible for their rise in popularity. Though eggplants originated in India, Arabs brought them to Spain, where they became a dietary staple. And so, when Jews were eventually expelled, they took their eggplant recipes with them, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Gabriela Geselowitz is the editor of Jewcy.com.