Pineapple has one of the most interesting and richer histories of existence. For centuries, it has been a symbol of friendship, and throughout history, it has been depicted as a symbol of wealth, hospitality, and royalty.
Pineapples were given to kings as a royal gift, and only the most distinguished guests were gifted this exotic fruit. The flavor and the sweetness of pineapple have been appreciated for a very long time, but during the colonial era, this was an expensive food and inaccessible to many, partly because it took voyagers a long time to transport it from the Caribbean to the colonies and most of the cargo rotted before reaching the destination.
From the Caribbean into Europe and the Americas
From originating in Brazil to being imported in Europe, pineapple traveled a good few miles before becoming a fruit for the elite among European families. Although food historians tie its origins to South America, it’s not by the natural occurrence that the fruit came to be.
Pineapple owes its existence to the migration of Indian canoe voyagers and their trading skills. The circumnavigation system they used allowed them to travel large distances of tropical oceans to small inhabited islands. Here they explored the territory to find goods which they took from destination to destination, establishing a trading network that was connected by maritime roads and shipping canals.
- When Christopher Columbus met pineapple
In 1493, Christopher Columbus traveled to the Caribbean for the second time and stopped on the island of Guadaloupe to investigate a nearby village that had been deserted. Villagers had left behind cooked bodily parts among other typical belongings of the Caribbean people. Fruits and vegetables were also scattered around the village, and that is how Columbus and crew became familiarized with pineapple.
Impressed with the fruit’s flavor and sweetness, Columbus recorded it and transported it to Europe where pineapple instantly became a favorite food for those who could afford it and an interesting study topic for horticulturists.
Pineapple crossed the ocean and became in Colonial America a status quo fruit by which the colonists expressed family status and wealth.
Pineapple – from sweetmeat to art work
Sweets have always been a common treat throughout history and when pineapple was introduced in Europe and later into the Americas, people starting preferring the fruit as-is over the more common dried and jellied fruits.
Because it was so rare and different to any of the other fruits eaten, the pineapple became a central food piece at dining tables. They expressed so much about a household and the people living there that the fruit was rented by the day.
Candied and preserved pineapple started to be transported from the Caribbean and was consumed as sweetmeat, a more accessible option because the wholesome fruit still remained expensive to many. Thus regarded for a long time as a symbol of prosperity and hospitality, the pineapple started to be depicted in various art works.
Architects used the fruit as motif when they built houses and artists carved wood and molded mortar creations for homes and public buildings. Painters painted pineapples on chairs and chests while welder-artists had pineapples cast into metal hot plates.