There are numerous farmer's markets in central Pennsylvania this time of year. Last week 2 of my students (one from Ghana) told me one of the markets sells "heirloom" eggplants, that included some that look like the West African versions. The market opens at 11:30 on Fridays, so yesterday I hurried over there and checked stalls until I found the right one, Moser's Garden Produce. As I examined the dozen or so different types of eggplants (Asian, Indian, African, Brazilian, etc.), I struck up a conversation with another shopper beside me loading a large bag. He was from Côte d'Ivoire, and preparing to buy in bulk and freeze the "aubergines" (French for eggplant) for use as needed. Unfortunately, he told me, the best ones were already taken. It turns out a Liberian colleague had beat us to it and called ahead for 4 bushels that she was picking up at 4:00 p.m. Oh, well. I selected several of the ones still available (in the picture above) and brought them home to test out.
I also had a lovely chat with owner/farmer Barrie Moser, and he let me look through the seed catalog he buys from, Baker Creek Heirloom seeds. It turns out the ones I bought included a new variety (Solanum aethiopicum) from Burkina Faso (the orange ones on the left). Mr. Moser's seed catalog was from 2010, but it also included several "jilo" varieties from Brazil, as well as "gbogname" from Togo (S. macrocarpon), and the African goya kumbo (S. melongena).
I'm pretty excited to try them out (one of my American students who bought some said he found them bitter, which was what I had warned them they might think. Can anyone tell me the scientific name of the common variety of Ghanaian "ntroma" garden eggs?