For a vegetable that can look like such a brute, eggplant is surprisingly fragile. It bruises easily and those flaws quickly turn bad (cut open a dented eggplant and you'll see the flesh is brown and corky in the affected area).
It also loses moisture quickly, leading to dry and pithy flesh. When choosing eggplant, pick ones that are heavy for their size. They'll be the freshest.
Also feel the skin. If it is a round eggplant, it should be taut and almost bulging. In Asian markets, the long, thin eggplants often are slightly softer. But they should not be so soft that the skin is wrinkling.
Eggplant is a tropical plant that hates the cold. When you see eggplants that have bronze patches on the skin, that is chill damage. The thin skins also are susceptible to water damage, so keep eggplants dry.
The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.