As a symbolic gesture to eating healthily, I ordered a salad to go with my burger instead of chunky chips. When it arrived, I noticed a few curious pieces of pale yellow and purple objects scattered over the bed of lettuce with a couple of thinly sliced tomatoes and chillis. Guess what? It was aubergine- raw aubergine to be precise.
I was at Elbow Room at Westbourne Grove. Ok, it is not supposed to be a gourmet restaurant but a place where people go to play pool and have a bite along the way. Looking at the bun, we wondered if the ‘salad’ was supposed to be inside the burger as it had nothing but just a layer of meat. But was serving a salad with raw aubergine and no salad dressing (yes, zero dressing!) a step too far?
I was actually quite entertained by my friends’ reactions when they saw my plate. They all made a face when they saw the raw aubergines and most of them wanted to try. ‘Yuck!’ was also the universal reaction after putting them in their mouths.
So what is wrong with eating raw aubergines? Is this a cultural preference (like I used to find it odd to see people putting raw Pak Choi in salad here in UK!) or years of evolution programmed us not to like something that is harmful for us? According to the Poison Garden, ‘Aubergine is a close relative of the deadly nightshade and must never be served raw. It contains solanine, an alkaloid glycoside, which increases bodily secretions and leads to vomiting and convulsions. The raw fruit is poisonous so aubergine must always be well cooked.’ Ooops! But then some people seem to like it. If you are feeling unbeatable, here is a Vegan recipe.
In the mean time, I wonder if I should stick to the classic burger and chips combo, just to be on safe side….