Portuguese, mid-18th cent.
Approx. 50 x 30 cm (with average-sized eggplant)
The health benefits of juices became widely known in 1747, when the Scottish naval surgeon James Lind treated scurvy-ridden sailors with lemons and oranges and obtained dramatic cures. This led to a craze for fruit and vegetable juices on the Continent, with metalworkers putting considerable invention into devices designed to milk these vitalizing liquids from assorted plant life.
The juicer shown here was the property of Ponce's Deli One, a favorite restaurant and health food bar in Lisbon Antigua with a wide variety of vegetative drinks on its menu, including the Turnip Toddy, the Celeriac Cocktail, the Potato Pousse-Café and the Salsify Sidecar. The Eggplant Espresso was for on-the-go types: the handy spigot on the top allowed the eggplant to be drunk from much like a water fountain, either at a restaurant table or outdoors while enjoying the scenery.
It is not known what sort of eggplant was used in 18th-century Portugal, but most scholars agree that it must have differed considerably from the contemporary vegetable, the juice of which instantly triggers the projectile gag reflex and spasmodic gastric eversion.