The odyssey of the pineapple, for a long time a symbol of prestige

The first European to try a pineapple was a certain… Christopher Columbus. In the Caribbean, in 1493, they offered him a piece as a sign of hospitality. Then, after the Portuguese caravels, the funny pineapple-shaped fruit appeared (hence the Spanish name). pineapple and English pineapple) quickly colonized the tropics, from Africa to Asia. The Old Continent was crazy about it, but only managed to cultivate it, in air-conditioned greenhouses, in the 17th century.

lullaby lullabyThe “perfume of perfumes” (a name given by the Guaraní of the Amazon, its land of origin before its spread to Mexico), thus remained reserved for royal tables for a long time.

A stage for the British aristocracy

In the 17th century it became the favorite fruit of the British aristocracy. A symbol of prestige, often displayed but rarely consumed. Rare and expensive, the pineapple sat in the center of the table to impress guests, even if it meant renting it out for the night. His silhouette was also reproduced countless times to decorate shields, doors, tapestries, etc.

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Hawaii, the world’s largest exporter of canned pineapple

“Hawaiian” pizza was actually invented in… Canada. But its star ingredient has been well exploited since the beginning of the 19th century in Hawaii, the land of its success story. Annexed by the United States in 1898, the archipelago was in fact the world’s leading exporter of canned pineapple slices until the 1940s, participating in the democratization of the “king of fruits.”

The Philippines’ sustainable sector

It is one of the main pineapple producers in the world. And also one of the most creative countries: Filipinos use piña, a fiber made from leaves, to weave their traditional tunic, the barong Tagalog. Inspired by these local techniques, a Spanish woman invented Piñatex, a vegetable leather as resistant as synthetic imitations, but much more flexible.

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➤ Article published in the GEO Magazine #540, Vietnamstarting February 2024.

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