It has come in many forms- baba ghanoush, baba ganoush, baba ghanouj, among many more. It seems that there are only three things people do agree on about this word: the spelling of baba, the fact that it's a type of Middle Eastern eggplant dish, and that the phrase originally meant "pampered father". We know this because that's the literal translation in Arabic, and there are three competing theories to explain the connection. First, there's the old folk tale about a toothless father who had to be fed pre-masticated food, something that no doubt looked like eggplant puree. Then, there's the suggestion that this was invented by a concubine in one of the historical sultans' harems for her master. This would make the sultan the "pampered father". Finally, there's the simple idea that this was cooked for less-than-deserving dads in general. I wish I could trace the words further, but the trail runs cold there.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd