There is a famous old Japanese saying about aki nasu or fall eggplants: "Aki nasu yome ni kuwasuna" — "Don't let the daughter-in-law eat fall eggplant."

There are two theories behind what this means. One plays on the age-old and pretty much worldwide conflict between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law.

In Japan, though it happens less often now, it is traditional for the daughter-in-law to live with her husband's family after marriage. Even with a new "wife" in the house, it would be the mother-in-law who continued to rule the household — and the kitchen would remain her domain. To the young bride, the mother-in-law could be terrifying, and in some households the younger woman would end up in a position that was little better than that of a servant. In this scenario, eggplants, which are particularly good in fall, were considered too much of a delicacy to feed to such a lowly family member.