As we’re enjoying the pineapple season, I can’t help noticing pineapples in all sorts of different forms on gateposts, staircases and even teapots.
Ever since Christopher Columbus brought the pineapple to Europe from Guadaloupe in 1493, this exotic fruit has symbolised wealth and generous hospitality.
By the 18th century, pineapples were such a rare, expensive delicacy that they weren’t always eaten straight away. Seen as a wealth indicator and the utmost symbol to welcome guests, they adorned dinner tables as centre-pieces and could be rented out by the day. Royalty and the aristocracy wanted to be seen with such a rare and exotic (
sex status symbol) celebrity and so set about discovering how to grow them.
The Sun King, Louis XIV, wasn’t too enamoured with pineapples, apparently all-too-eagerly biting into one – spiky skin and all – so Jean-Baptiste Le Quintinie, director of the King’s Fruit and Vegetable Garden at Versailles had no pressure to grow them.
Louis XV, however, learned from his predecessor and adored the sweet pineapple and so in 1735, Louis Le Normand made a breakthrough at Versailles, growing them in a layer of fermented manure, trapping heat under glass bells.
How many pineapple motifs have you seen recently? They’re normally carved out of stone and wood, decorating front doors, gates, bed-posts, staircases and linens – all to symbolise the ultimate hospitality to guests. These shots were taken in the Paris suburbs, dahlinks.
Have you seen the Scottish Pineapple? It’s a wacky stone building with a pineapple roof that was constructed by the 5th Earl of Dunmore in the 1760s. This is a place I’d love to stay in Scotland, as it has been beautifully restored. For much more fruity fascinating facts about the pineapple, I recommend Gary Okihiro’s book, Pineapple Culture.
Back in Paris with posh pineapple teapots at Laduree: la vie est belle! These silver pineapples can get pretty hot for sweet and sticky macaron or Réligieuse-y fondant fingers.
Incidentally, if you’re like me and love a dash of milk with your tea, be warned at Ladurée: they add an extra euro for the little pot on the side. As a Scot who tried to explain I only take a few drops, it didn’t work at the Printemps salon de thé. It doesn’t matter how much you use, the pot gets added on.
So, ensure you ask afterwards for your coveted ticket to visit the fancy toilets on the same floor. Standing in that queue is perhaps a wealth indicator, too, at it’s possibly the most expensive pee you can have in Paris. That way you feel that spending your penny hasn’t been in vain.
Roasted Vanilla Pineapple with Passion Fruit
Wildly adapted and inspired by the roasted pineapple recipe, Ananas Rôti from Larousse des desserts by Pierre Hermé.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour
1 large (or 2 small) pineapple(s)
4 vanilla pods/beans
250ml water, warm
2 passion fruits
2 tbsp dark rum
- Prepare a syrup: carmelise the sugar with a couple of drops of water over a low heat without stirring. Meanwhile, cut 2 vanilla pods down the middle and scrape out the seeds using a sharp knife. Reserve the emptied pods.
- As soon as the caramel turns a dark golden colour, add the scraped vanilla seeds then the warmed water (it’s important it’s warm-hot, otherwise the caramel will instantly harden.) Stir using a wooden spoon and bring to the boil.
- Take off the heat then add the passion fruit and rum.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Prepare the pineapple by cutting off the outer skin with a sharp knife.
- Cut the remaining 2 vanilla pods in half vertically and stick them into the pineapple along with the other reserved pods. Place the pineapple in a roasting tin, pour over the syrup (if you don’t like the passion fruit seeds, strain through a sieve) and roast in the oven for about an hour, spooning the syrup over the pineapple every 10-15 minutes.
When ready to serve, cut the pineapple into slices. Delicious with vanilla or coconut ice cream.
Update: love this recipe? Try it with a French-style rice pudding, Pineapple Riz Condé.
How do YOU like your pineapple?
Hm. Now it’s time to think about carving a pineapple on our gatepost!