This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol4", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
Of late years the fruits of the Aubergine or Egg Plant (Solanum Melongena) have found their way into British markets. Some of the fruits are white and resemble an egg in shape, but others are longer and more club-shaped, and of a deep violet-purple colour. One called "Violette de Tokio" is much favoured in French gardens. Seeds are sown from November onwards in rich gritty soil in a temperature of 70° to 75° F. The seedlings are pricked out 3 or 4 in. apart when large enough to handle easily, and are again transferred after three or four weeks to pots by themselves, or are planted in hotbeds over which 6 to 8 in. of sandy loam and leaf soil, or well-decayed manure, has been spread. Each plant is allowed about 2 to 2 1/2 sq. ft. in the frames, and care is taken to protect them from frost at night. The tip of the main shoot is pinched out to secure a branching habit; when the four or five side shoots have grown sufficiently long, they also have the tips pinched out. All further growths are suppressed as they appear, and each plant is allowed to mature from ten to twelve fruits. The crop is finished in four or five months from the date of sowing. The fruits are served in various ways. "In Provence the fruit is cut longitudinally in two, and the seeds and spongy substance surrounding them are taken out. The two halves are then placed on the gridiron, with the cut faces upwards, and whilst roasting, the flesh is soaked with fine salad oil or fresh butter, applied a little at a time, a sufficiency of pepper and salt being added. Some augment the flavour with parsley, anise, or other aromatic herbs; others place an anchovy or a pilchard between the two pieces. The great difficulty in cooking is to avoid the flavour of smoke; with this object in view the fruit is sometimes cooked between two plates. Another mode of preparation consists in peeling the fruit, placing it in a frying-pan, scoring it across and across, filling the incisions with fine Florence oil, and then sprinkling with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and grated bread. When half-cooked, a little aromatic vinegar is poured over the fruit, which is then served garnished with parsley or chervil." - The Gardener's Assistant.