Eggplant is a beloved vegetable. It is known as Talong (Tagalog), Tawong (Bisaya), Talon (Pangasinan), Tarong (Ilokano), Terung (Malay), and Terong (Indonesian), and Solanum melongena to scientists.
Talong is prepared in many different ways! Adobong talong, ensaladang talong, tortang talong (eggplant omelette), pinakbet, rellenong talong (stuffed eggplant), kare-kare, ginataang gulay, binagoongan talong, and poqui-poqui from Ilocos are just some of the dishes that require this soft, violet, berry of goodness.
Did I say berry? That’s right! Botanically-speaking, talong is a berry because they come from flowers with one ovary. But strawberries and raspberries? Not berries! They’re drupes 1.
We LOVE talong. The Philippines produced more than 240,000 tons of talong in 2017; on more than 20,000 hectares of land. This is more than double the production of eggplant in the US, and places the Philippines within the top 10 most talong-productive nations in the world 2.
The top 5 talong-producing provinces in 2011 were Pangasinan, Quezon, Iloilo, Isabela, and Cagayan. Pangasinan provided more than 30% of the country’s total eggplant production! 3
Eggplants were first cultivated more than 2,000 years ago in India, as well as China. And the earliest documentation of talong in Malay and Tagalog writings date back to the 7th century 4.
Talong has also been used as a medicine! In the Philippines, as well as in China and India, plant shoots of talong have been applied to skin to treat rashes and wounds. In both the Philippines and in China, eggplant slices have been used as bandages. Compared to China and India, the Philippines has the most uses of talong roots as a medicine. This suggests that the use of eggplant may have ancient origins here 4.
One of the things Filipinos don’t love about talong, are the “worms” that can often be found in them. These cute little buggers are actually Eggplant fruit borers, or Leucinodes orbonalis. They grow to become beautiful moths with hearts on their wings! 5
Support my art
- Ensaladang talong art print on Society6.
- L. Geggel, 2017. Why Are Bananas Berries, But Strawberries Aren’t? Livescience.com. Last accessed August 9, 2019.
- FAOSTAT. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Last accessed August 9, 2019.
- J. Prado-Lu, 2014. Insecticide Residues in Soil, Water, and Eggplant Fruits and Farmers’ Health Effects Due to Exposure to Pesticides.
- R. Meyer, et al., 2014. Comparing Medicinal Uses of Eggplant and Related Solanaceae in China, India, and the Philippines Suggests the Independent Development of Uses, Cultural Diffusion, and Recent Species Substitutions.
- Leucinodes orbonalis (Guenee). ICAR-NBAIR, National Bureau of Agricultural Insect Resources. 2013. Last accessed August 9, 2019.