The Paris Review

The Strange History of the “King-Pine”

Recent pineapple decorating trends.

“There is no nobler fruit in the universe,” Jean de Léry writes of the pineapple. Charles Lamb loved the fruit erotically: “Pleasure bordering on pain, from the fierceness and insanity of her relish, like a lovers’ kisses she biteth.”  Pieter de la Court professes: “One can never be tire’d with looking on it.” How did these men, and so many others, become so enraptured with the pineapple? And how have we forgotten its former grandeur?

In 1496, when Christopher Columbus was returning from his second voyage to the Americas, he brought back a consignment of pineapples. Little did he know that this golden gift, nestled among the tame parrots, tomatoes, tobacco, and pumpkins, would be the crowning glory of his cargo.

The fateful pineapple that reached King Ferdinand was the sole survivor: it was the only specimen that had not dissolved into a sticky rot during the journey. It produced enough of an impression for Peter Martyr, tutor to the Spanish princes, to record the first tasting: “The most invincible King

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Paris Review

The Paris Review9 min read
Re-Covered: The Sky Falls by Lorenza Mazzetti
In her monthly column, Re-Covered, Lucy Scholes exhumes the out-of-print and forgotten books that shouldn’t be. Lorenza Mazzetti, 1950s. (Unknown photographer, courtesy of Shelley Boettcher) In 1956, in a central London café, Lindsay Anderson, Karel
The Paris Review6 min read
How to Imitate George Saunders
The first time I met George Saunders, I got shivers of déjà vu. I’d driven to his house in upstate New York, to interview him for this magazine, and he’d come out to his driveway to shake my hand. It was a crisp fall day in the wooded hills south of
The Paris Review10 min readFood & Wine
Cooking with Elizabeth Jane Howard
In Valerie Stivers’s Eat Your Words series, she cooks up recipes drawn from the works of various writers. The old-fashioned matriarch in the Cazalet Chronicles believes in just adding more bread crumbs to the rissoles if there’s not enough food for t