To everyone’s surprise I have never actually blogged about pineapples here, but maybe I’ve just been waiting for the right moment. So as this weekend I went to the Pineapple House near Dunmore, Scotland, with Sara and Alex, it seems like a good moment.
A brief history of the pineapple (fruit)
The fruit of the Bromeliaceae family (same as strawberries – there ARE pineberries) was discovered by Columbus himself in 1493 on is second journey to Guadeloupe and named as a piña de Indes (he was not a smart man). It was brought to Europe in the 16th century, first recordings of the name by French explorer André Thevet stem from 1555. And yes, the name basically stems from Europeans thinking it just kind of looked like a pine cone on an apple.
More interesting is the etymology of its other name – Ananas. It stems from the Tupi word nanas, literally translating to “delicious fruit” (smart people here). There are some urban myths about the name stemming from banana crates where the b was simply crossed out as they lacked pineapple crates. I have not found any evidence for that so far.
Starting to be cultivated in only the 17th century, the pineapple soon became a symbol of hospitality because of being associated with the return of ships from long journeys. You may often see pineapples in castles, carved in guest beds or on paintings – they could actually be rented by the hour back then to show wealth and, well, hospitality.
Today, pineapples are mainly grown in Costa Rica, the Phillipines, Thailand and Brazil. Sadly, their cultivation causes quite a lot of trouble as more pesticides are used than in most other tropical fruit.
A brief history of The Pineapple (house)
The house, built in 1761 by John Murray, was actually used for growing pineapples. The actual pineapple, however, is said to be built in 1776 (designed by Sir William Chambers, who is also responsible for Somerset House and Kew Gardens). That was when Murray returned from Virginia, where he had spent the time in between as a governour.
The pineapple itself is 14 metres high, mixes several architectural styles and is one of the most impressive architectural representations of the symbol, showing off what stonemasons can do. Today you can actually rent the pineapple as a holiday home.