The Italian word for eggplant is melanzane, which comes from the Latin melum insanum, meaning either "unhealthy apple" or "mad apple." It's no wonder, then, that the poor fruit was regarded with much mistrust in Italy when it was first introduced from Asia during the Middle Ages. Lucky for us, the Italians got over their fears and developed eggplant parmigiana. Josephine's Italian Ristorante (1209 Caroline, 713-759-9323) does a slightly different rendition of this famous dish and calls it eggplant ghiotta ($6.95, dinner only). They dredge slices of eggplant in beaten egg and cover both sides with seasoned bread crumbs before sautéing. The vegetable is then topped with a fabulous homemade marinara sauce, plus diced olives, pine nuts, capers and one ingredient not common to Italian cuisine: raisins. The sweetness of the raisins counteracts the salty olives and capers, leading one to conclude that there's nothing mad about this dish.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.