In “The Fortuitous Meeting”, Gerard mentions that the pineapple is “regarded as one of the sweetest flavors in the world. It is so treasured by the Portuguese, they ship trees all the way to India to make sure the fruit is never far from their colonies.”
The pineapple was indeed held in high esteem in the sixteenth century. The men who wrote the earliest descriptions and histories of Brazil were unanimous in their praise of the fruit. Here are a few of their comments:
- “The fruit is very fragrant, tasty, one of the best in the world, full of juice and flavor.” – Fernão Cardim
- “The flavor is very sweet and so suave that no Spanish fruit is its equal in form, flavor and smell.” – Gabriel Soares de Sousa
- “They are so flavorful that, in the opinion of all, there is no fruit in this realm that bests their taste.” – Pero de Magalhães de Gândavo
- “A fruit that in form, smell, and flavor exceeds all others in the world.” – Frei Salvador
Shortly after the Portuguese and Spanish discovered the fruit, they began shipping it to other tropical colonies for cultivation.
Today, the pineapple is referred to as “ananás” in Portugal, but as “abacaxi” in Brazil. I believe this is because the Spanish learned the word “naná” from their contact with the Guarani, which they soon transmitted throughout the Iberian Peninsula. But the Brazilians continued to use the Tupi version “ibá” (fragrant) + “cati” (fruit). I’ll be discussing the different Tupi peoples and their language much more in the future.
So on that note, I think it’s time for me to have a snack! Bet you can’t guess what…
(Photographs by Christopher Kastensmidt)