Japanese eggplants are longer and thinner than the round, plump variety we refer to as Italian eggplants. Whether or not the names belie some cultural bias I don’t know. What I do know is that the slender Japanese eggplant is extremely easy to cook with. I don’t even peel them; I just cut them into thin rounds and fry them in olive oil until dark brown on both sides — it only takes about 10 minutes. Then I season them with salt, pepper, and chili flakes, then squeeze on a little lemon juice. The eggplant becomes velvety soft, and practically melts in your mouth. The only thing I wouldn’t use them for something like eggplant parm, which requires a more substantial piece of eggplant.