Eggplant: Itchy Mouthfeel?

posted in: Ruminations | 162


Is there something wrong with me? Does anybody else suffer from this problem? Let me back up. Throughout my entire life, I have eaten and enjoyed eggplant. I recall one day at my old apartment, I proposed cooking an eggplant dish with then-roommate Erin. She said she was allergic to eggplant — “It makes my mouth itchy.” Well that’s unfortunate, I thought. Then today I made this baked eggplant, sauteed spinach, fresh mozzarella and sundried tomato crostini, and found myself smacking my mouth afterwards, annoyed by this fuzzy, tingly itchy feel on my tongue.

burned by bruschetta

The eggplant itchy mouthfeel syndrome! Did Erin pass it on to me by co-habitation? Does one acquire it with age or with increased eggplant consumption? Whatever it is, what a total bummer.

I did a little research and found that an eggplant oral allergy was identified by the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Also, an article purporting that oral allergy syndrome, as it were, may be worsened by the presence of ragweed, which occurs after August 15 — uhh, now. Incidentally, this is also the best time of the year for eggplant! In many stripes and sizes. I know you’re all eating them as I write. Grilled and drizzled with olive oil, battered and fried, roasted and chilled or baba ghanoushed. You cannot resist those pearly teardrops of purpleness. So tell me, all you otherwise eggplant-happy eaters, are you experiencing what I’m experiencing? (Imagine me in pink headband and fringed sleeves: “Are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced (with the itchy oral eggplant syndrome)? Well, I have.”)

Truth be told, the itchy feel wasn’t so unpleasant that I couldn’t go on with my evening and forget about it completely after some drinks. I’d say it lasted a couple of hours. Also, I was drinking white wine along with this dish, and wonder if the alcohol could have possibly agitated whatever chemicals were going on in my mouth or dried out my tongue too much.

itching to attack

Aside: If you’re wondering why these photos look eight times more sophisticated than my usual ones, it’s because I stole my boyfriend’s digital camera to snap them while he was out (and since I left my camera at someone’s house). Ben recently got a new lens, too, and is very excited about having the same camera and lens as “the Smitten Kitchen Lady,” aka Deb. I know — Hooray, finally an upgrade! Well, I don’t know how long that will last. I barely know how to hold the thing, so consider this post a rare visual treat.

162 Responses

  1. NOmoreEggplant

    Wow. I am so glad I came across this. I’ve been feeling alone and crazy trying to figure out my issues with eggplant. When I was child I noticed my mouth getting tingly & itchy. As a teenager the same. As I hit my 20’s my gums would start “breaking” and becoming inflamed. My 30’s noticed getting bumps under my tongue and craters on my palette. You would think I should stop eating it by now right? Wrong, I kept going like a nut job! Lol Now in my 40’s I’ve had the worst reaction yet. My tongue is swollen with bumps on the back of my tongue, swollen gums , craters on my palette, and boils under my tongue. All from eating a stew that was cooked with eggplant inside. I did not eat the actual eggplant. I think it’s time I go see an allergist.(To self: Ya think?lol ) I just took some Benadryl and it’s alleviating the swelling. No more eggplant for me, sadly, it has certainly gotten worst over time for me. All the best to you!

  2. Aileen K

    I agree with what some others have said. I believe the itchy or burning feel is caused by a a component in the plant and that it can actually be removed. After experimenting, it seems to be mostly in the liquid and also related to the bitterness. If I cook eggplant till it’s mushy, much of the burning disappears. If I do something like roast it for babagaoush I roast it very long. I can remove all the itchy and bitter by draining if very well, then putting the mush into a cheese cloth squeezing out even more liquid. If I do a stew or parma I slice it and salt both side liberally with chunky or Kosher salt. after at least an hour I rinse them off well and dry them. This draws out the eggplants liquid and fixes them too.

  3. Lexxe

    I love eating eggplant and aubergines since childhood but twice I cooked it I had that itchy feeling in my mouth. Then I ate eggplants in different occasions and I’m okay, no weird feeling whatsoever. Then one time I ate it again in a restaurant and I got the itchy mouth again. I therefore conclude that I get this allergy when eggplant isn’t cook right so I researched it and asked several cooks How they prepare it. And yes, there is a certain way to cooked it. If it isn’t cooked right for example some eggplant was on top and some sides isn’t cooked well then I get that itchy feeling.

  4. billy ross iii

    Hi. I’ve never eaten eggplant before until last month when my mom cooked fried eggplant last month, May 15th. After eating a few slices, my mouth began to itch and my throat was starting to collapse. I was suffering anaphylaxis. So I took Children’s all day allergy relief and felt better. I will never eat eggplant again as long as I live.

  5. Maria Paula Lopes

    My whole family is eggplant alergic. But It is so rare here in Brazil that people seldom believe us. But we van have pretty serious episodes. To make matters worse, in São Paulo we have strong italian influence. So aubergines are everywhere.

  6. norman cosman

    Eggplant and Rhubarb have the same effect: mouth and tongue itch; someone said oxalic acid in rhubarb might be the cause.

  7. ‍♀️Eggplant

    When I first ate the eggplant (Sunday dinner), I felt a tingle on the surface of my tongue. After a while it went away and I didn’t think anything of it. Then Monday my tongue felt like it was burned from eating hot soup (which I did not). I knew I had a slight allergy to eggplant but I guess with age it’s gotten worse. I’m bummed but will definitely stop eating it now. I don’t like this “burned” tongue feeling.

  8. Catherine

    I just discovered 5 days ago that I am now allergic to eggplant. What I feel is a numb itchy sensation on the outside corners of my mouth, radiating towards my cheeks. It’s the same sensation I get from kiwies, also a newly formed allergy. The eggplant I cooked had the skin still on.

  9. Beth

    For years I’ve had my mouth goes numb and lose my sense of taste after eating eggplant. I recently found that eggplant belongs to the nightshade family. These nightshade can cause joint pain. Since removing nightshade from my diet, I am now off my anti-inflammatory medication which I’d been taking for almost 2 years!! I hope you other eggplant allergy friends consider the allergy could have a wider scope in your food choices.

  10. Martin

    It felt so good to read all the above comments.
    I couldn’t understand why sometimes ingot an allergic reaction and I thought I was imagining things.
    I’m not always allergic to eggplant, but when I am (20% of The time ), I get a burning in my mouth and then my chest. I can now tell right away if I’m going to have this reaction so I stop eating it immediately
    One time my friend saw me, after it hit my chest and asked me if I was OK because it looks like I’m about to die. I kept silent from the pain I was in bit they saw it. But like I wrote that only happens occasionally

  11. Pb

    I love eggplant, but it makes my lips and tongue itch like crazy. Its the seeds that cause it for me. If I eat parts of the eggplant that don’t have any, I experience no discomfort. If I get even one seed into my mouth, it starts itching

  12. Leah Yolo

    I ate some roasted eggplant a few days ago with the skin on. It was quite hot, and I may have burned my tongue. I finished it and now it’s like I have lost my sense of taste. I certainly hope it comes back!

Leave a Reply