A very sexy fruit. If you believe what you saw in Cabaret, a gift of a pineapple to a young woman in 1930s Berlin meant that you were physically attracted to her.

Eating pineapple is also supposed to make your semen taste better (if you're a guy). I'm not sure if the above two facts are related.

Apparently there is an enzyme in pineapple that helps your mouth heal faster, so you should eat it a few days before surgery, like a root canal or having your wisdom teeth pulled. But I'm just telling you what I heard.

This fabulous fruit (Ananas comosus) is perhaps the most widely cultivated and loved of all tropical fruits. It is close to ubiquitous in either its fresh or canned form and has a multitude of cookery uses, be it in sweet of savoury dishes, as well as in drinks.

History

Pineapples are native to Central and South America. Jean de Lery made the first western discovery in the mid 16th Century while in Brazil and it is said that even earlier Christopher Columbus was presented with pineapples as he landed at Guadeloupe, an island in the French West Indies.

The fruit was introduced first to England, then later France, where the cool temperate climate required growing them in glasshouses. By the 18th Century a pineapple was a rare and expensive curio in Europe, as evidenced by a gift of the fruit given to Louis XV in 1733.

Pineapples were introduced into Australia in 1838 by Lutheran missionaries and successful crops were established first in Queensland, then later in the northern coasts of Western Australia and New South Wales. The fruit is now grown in tropical regions the world over.

Anatomy and chemistry

The pineapple has an intriguingly unique anatomy. It is not a single fruit as such, but rather a collection of closely packed berrylike structures that grow around a central stem. This stem forms the core of the pineapple.

It has been widely touted that pineapple consumption can have a positive effect on the taste of human semen (much as asparagus is said to have the reverse effect). What is less widely known is that in certain tropical Muslim regions, particularly Indonesia, the consumption of pineapples by females is discouraged due to the supposed unpleasant aroma it can impart to a woman's genitalia. Both of these are provided as anecdotal evidence and I will leave it to your own experiences to reach a conclusion.

Along with papaya, kiwifruit and figs, pineapple is rich in a protease enzyme known as bromelain. Protease enzymes break down protein and hence can cause problems for pineapple plantation workers whose hands will eventually be eaten away. They must wear heavy gloves to prevent this unpleasant outcome.

In the kitchen bromelain has the effect of causing gelatine based desserts not to set. Bromelain is destroyed at heats over 80 °C (170 ° F), so cooked pineapple is the only way to get a gelatine based mousse or bavarois to set. This enzyme can also be harnessed as a meat tenderizer. Meat, seafood and poultry that is marinated in pineapple (or indeed papaya, figs or kiwifruit) will be quite effectively tenderized. Bromelain affects mostly the exterior of the meat, so small pieces must be used for this method.

Varieties

Pineapples are almost never sold by variety, but are broken down into 2 main groups. Rough and smooth according to the texture of the leaves.

A "Rough" pineapple belongs to the smaller varieties and generally posses a golden flesh that is very sweet, making them the best table variety. "Smooth" pineapples are slightly larger and have paler flesh. They do not have the sweetness of the "Roughies" and hence are often used in canning, where the syrup used will mask any tartness.

One exception: if you are lucky enough to live in Australia there is a wonderful pineapple strain that is marketed under the name Bethonga. They are sold with the leaves cropped off so as to stop competitors propagating them. The flavour of a Bethonga is simply breathtaking. All the bracing acidity of a good pineapple with intense sweetness to balance. The flesh is an impossibly deep gold

Ripeness

Pineapples contain no starch reserves, which means once the fruit is picked it will not get any sweeter. Pineapples must be picked well into the onset of ripening.

To determine the ripeness of a pineapple, forget about the skin colour. Some varieties are deep green when fully ripe and others are golden when still immature. Other methods are to pluck the leaves, an easily detached leaf is meant to indicate a ripe fruit, and tapping the pineapple for a solid sound. Both these methods are unreliable at best. The one failsafe method of selecting a top pineapple is to take a deep sniff. If it smells tropically sweet and intoxicatingly pineappley, you are set.

It sure felt good when I threw that pineapple off the roof.

It hit the ground with a satisfying thump, and blossomed into a sublimely random pattern of concentric blackish grayish chunks.

My girlfriend gave me the pineapple last year. She is always buying things for no reason at all, so I can totally imagine how a pineapple could have accidentally found its way into her basket on one of her weekly trips to Whole Foods Market. She gave it to me the morning after we had our first “big fight” as a sort of edible olive branch.

The only problem was, I hate pineapple. I never could stand the things. They even look like some sort of medieval torture device. If people ask me why I don’t like pineapple, I usually tell them about a certain disastrously embarrassing school play in first grade entitled “The Four Food Groups.” It’s a semi-true story, but it’s not the real reason. Maybe the simple explanation is that I hate pineapples because my Dad loves them so much and always made such a big deal about them when I was a kid. I don’t really know for sure.

No, eating the pineapple myself was definitely out of the question. But then, what the hell do you do with a pineapple that you don’t want? A pineapple is just so goddamn big. I mean, you can’t just throw it out because you feel like if you did you’d be depriving some Somalian family of enough food to last them a week.

Now that I think about it, I guess I could have given it away to somebody else, but that thought didn’t occur to me at the time. I’ve never really thrown out or given away any of the crazy things my girlfriend gives me, even though at least ninety percent of them serve no practical purpose whatsoever. I just leave them sort of lying around in strategic positions, in a feeble attempt to make it seem as if I use them all the time. Not that she cares if I use them or not.

The pineapple soon found its way onto my kitchen counter, where it sat for the last eight months. Pretty soon I completely forgot about it. I really only thought about it when people would ask why I had a grayish, shriveled-up pineapple on my counter, and I’d make some lame excuse.

Finally it started to smell a little, but I never quite got around to throwing it out. I put one of those adjustable odor-eating cones next to it and that seemed to take away the stench. I had this vague feeling that that withering fruit stood for something, and if I threw it out something terrible would happen. That’s why, when I read the note she left me this morning, the first thing I thought was “Well, at least I can get rid of that damn pineapple!”

Pine"ap`ple (?), n. Bot.

A tropical plant (Ananassa sativa); also, its fruit; -- so called from the resemblance of the latter, in shape and external appearance, to the cone of the pine tree. Its origin is unknown, though conjectured to be American.

 

© Webster 1913.

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