The eggplant has a history of being a culinary ambassador, having travelled from its native India to almost every country around the world. It arrived in South America in 1650 with the Spanish explorers and ever since, the "apple of love" has been a mainstay in Argentine cuisine.
This adaptable fruit (which we tend to think of as a vegetable) is now being offered back to India with genetic modifications designed to make it more pest-resistant. Monsanto, in collaboration with Cornell University, has created the Bt eggplant with the idea of improving crop yields in Asia and other countries (such as Argentina) where the plant is grown. Recent news articles show that there is opposition to the introduction of the genetically modified eggplant, as little is known about its long-term safety for humans, animals and the environment. The lovely glossy-skinned aubergine that left India on an extended global journey has come full circle, and arrived back home in a sadly altered state. It has become a test case for other genetically engineered foods that are being proposed for human consumption.
I know that the eggplant used for last night's dinner was not the product of a genetically modified seed, (Bt seed is just being introduced this season by Monsanto) but in future, how will I know for sure? The eggplant was sliced in half and baked for 30 minutes in the oven before removing the flesh. Ground beef, saffron rice, oregano, chili pepper and onions went into the filling, along with the diced eggplant. Served in its boat-shaped skin, this dish makes an impressive presentation at the table.
We paired the stuffed eggplant with Colon Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Valle de Tulum in San Juan province. This wine has an agreeable cherry and black pepper flavour, with just a hint of coffee and toast in the finish. It sells for 12.50 pesos at the local autoservicio Casa Martin.