(Solanum aethiopicum); aka Melanzana Rossa di Rotonda, Merlingiana a pummadora; Heritage; a Slow Food Ark of Taste variety; Minimum 20 seeds
Arriving in Rotonda in the late 1930's, these "tomato eggplant" were brought from Ethiopia by Italian expatriates returned to Italy. A separate species from "regular", common eggplant (S. melongena), you can grow this Italian treasure next to another favorite eggplant without worry of cross-pollination.
Brilliant red when mature, fruits of Rotonda Red are low content in chlorogenic acid which means when cut, the flesh does not darken as is typical with eggplants; despite this, they are rarely eaten fresh. Instead, Rotonda Red feature prominately preserved in vinegar or oil, or as a relish. Fully ripe fruits are quite spicy tart, with a somewhat bitter aftertaste and as a result they are more often dried nzertate - where the green-steaked orange immature fruits are harvested, strung together, and left in the open under the eaves for drying.
Leaves are edible!
Check Slow Food's Rotonda Red Eggplant page for more information and the Fine Dining Lovers' piece Italian Delicacies: Red Eggplant of Rotonda for culinary inspiration - "Prelibatezza!" I can't wait for harvest!