Aubergines were at one time regarded with both suspicion and superstition. The aubergine de Narbonne, also known as the violet longue, has several unflattering names in the vernacular –pommefurieuse, raging apple, poule pondeuse, laying hen and, worst of all, vit de l’âne, donkey’s pizzle.
This last name may hint at a long-held belief that eating aubergines made men feel more attractive to women, even though, in the early seventeenth century, these sombre vegetables were also thought to bring on headaches, sadness and melancholy.
This unexpected and extremely delicious dish is similar to Colman Andrews’ aubergine flan, in his book Catalan Cuisine. In the Aude they serve it with melted cheese on top and sometimes add chopped ham to the aubergine purée, while the Catalan version requires no cheese but calls for a red sauce (try the beautiful sauce for calçots) which adds a Goyaesque dab of hot colour to the pale dusky hues.