Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The word Pineapple is brought to you by the letter P

For some unknown reason we eat on average 2 pineapples a week in Rome. The only other fruit we eat in large quantities are bananas about 8 a week and apples, I really like the Pink Lady variety, 3 on average per week. I do not remember any other time in our lives when we ate pineapples on a regular basis at all. In fact it was not a fruit I would eat at all. Here in Rome, you find freshly cut pineapple on the menu of every restaurant, it is the dessert par excellence. Huge quantities of fresh pineapples are consumed every week in the Eternal City. They come from Central America from the tiny republic of Costa Rica, not from Hawaii as I first thought, too far away my Sri Lankan fruit vendor told me. I think the reason why we eat so much of it is because it is fresh. I notice that you cannot find canned fruits here, all fruits are fresh, maybe this is why so much fruit is consumed. Since they have them on display in the glass case of the dining rooms instead of cakes, people go for it. There is this tradition that only the wealthy could afford to eat fruit in the past, they owned the orchards and fruit gardens and had gardeners to look after their fruit trees, you see this in classical paintings and in frescoes of old castles, so eating fresh fruit today is a symbol of prosperity for the average person.

Pineapple must be a new import to Italy though, I say this because until 1965 Italy was not a very rich country or the wealth was concentrated in the hands of the few, so such import of exotic fruits would have been difficult if not prohibitive. Previously in largely agrarian Italy, most people lived in the countryside until the 1950's, the poor ate what they could and worked on large Estates to bring seasonal fruits to the markets in the cities, again only people in the middle class, the clergy, civil servants and the few who owned land could have access to this type of food. Italy grows a large variety of grape, melons and watermelons in summer, apples, pears, persimmons and pomegranates in the Fall, a variety of oranges, tangerines and chestnuts in the late Fall and Winter and in Spring berries from the woods, strawberries are plentyful.
All this makes for a healthy diet today and a sensible one at that too. Children do not grow obese, in fact children here tend to be slim. They also do a lot of physical activities, it is encourage, luckily TV here is still fairly mundane if not downright boring.


  1. We're fortunate here in O-Town.
    All manner of citrus fruits,as well as persimmons,peaches,kiwis,pomegranites,..oh my,..are avialable for the picking..Everyone knows somebody,that knows somebody whose happy to let you fill a bag full of your favorites from the abundance.
    No Pineapples though.

  2. I love pineapples! And here in Vanc/Toronto, most of them also come from Costa Rica. I now wonder how much of that small country's export is from pineapples! How can such a small country supply all these pineapples being shipped around the world? I also wonder if the whole cultivation/production is damaging for its environment (like banana farms which wiped out segments of the rainforest..Brazil?). Funny that you speak about Pink Lady apples. My Viking prefers that variety as well (available all over Norway), but you never see it here in N.America! We have far too many other strains.

  3. You can find the Pink Lady apple variety in Ottawa and eastern Canada. It is a new variety maybe 15 yrs old I remember hearing about it on the CBC radio for the first time and I think it was in fact developped as a variety in Quebec.

  4. oh i had no idea about pink lady in canada! haven't seen it in toronto yet.

  5. ok i just checked, pink ladies developed by aussies :)