Eggplant is a vegetable from the nightshade family (which also includes tomatoes, okra, and zucchini) that grows in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and thrives in hot climates and during the summer months. They range from small globes about two inches in diameter to more oblong and tubular varietals 12 inches long or larger. The seeds of all eggplant varieties are edible, making it especially easy to cook. Eggplant has a flavor similar to summer squash or zucchini: tender, mild and sweet with a slight vegetal bitterness. Eggplant will absorb the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with. It’s texture is firm and spongy when raw and meltingly tender when cooked (especially fried, smoked or braised). Wrinkled, loose skin is an indication of age and the flesh of these eggplants may be more bitter. Smaller eggplants have fewer seeds, thinner skin and tend to be sweeter and more tender.