Eggplant has an important place in Provençal cooking and, as in Italy, tomato commonly assists in its preparation. Their affinity cannot be questioned, but it is sometimes good to savor an eggplant alone. For instance, you can bake them whole. Use small eggplants—5 or 6 ounces, baking them for about ¾ hour or until the flesh is purée soft at the stem end—but don’t test with the point of a knife, for, while cooking, they swell, retaining the hot air in their skins and each guest should have the pleasure of puncturing his eggplant at table; accompany with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon, and, if one likes, finely chopped parsley, onion, and garlic. They may be eaten split lengthwise and spooned directly from the skins or the contents spooned out and mashed with a fork and the chosen seasoning. They are also good grilled (split in two lengthwise, if they are small, crisscross incisions made deeply into the flesh, taking care not to cut through the skin, marinated in olive oil for 15 minutes or so, seasoned and grilled over hot coals, flesh side first—until golden brown, finished on skin side until the flesh is completely tender at the stem end). And, of course, they can be fried.