I’m lov­ing

Matt Pre­ston em­barks on a voy­age of dis­cov­ery to re­veal a se­cret his­tory.

delicious - - CONTENTS -

Matt un­cov­ers pineap­ple’s se­crets.

ALL HAIL THE UL­TI­MATE green and gold hero, the pineap­ple. I’ve just trashed my wor­thy orig­i­nal col­umn cham­pi­oning pineap­ple in favour of one cel­e­brat­ing its truly racy past. Strap your­self in to dis­cover what re­ally lies be­neath the fruit’s rep­til­ian ex­te­rior.

BLAME THE PINEAP­PLE FOR QUEENS­LAND

What came first? The pineap­ple or the rugby-league-lov­ing north­ern state? Well, the bizarre truth is, it was the pineap­ple. The Ger­man mis­sion­ar­ies who set­tled near More­ton Bay in 1838 in­tro­duced rough leaf pineap­ples to Aus­tralia. Queens­land, of course, did not be­come a state in its own right un­til 1859.

BLAME THE PINEAP­PLE FOR THE FRENCH REVO­LU­TION

With the cost of pro­duc­ing pineap­ples in not-very-trop­i­cal 18th-century France run­ning at up to $4000 each, the ob­scene amounts of money spent by Louis XV – and other aris­tos – to grow the fruit is held up as the sort of ex­cess that fu­elled the revo­lu­tion.

BLAME THE PINEAP­PLE FOR THE RISE OF ‘BLING’ CUL­TURE

It was this very waste­ful­ness that ap­pealed to the posh­est folks over the English Channel. In the 18th century, grow­ing pineap­ples be­came a na­tional craze for the su­per-rich, in­spired by Chelsea Physic Gar­den head gar­dener Philip Miller, who boasted he could grow big­ger pineap­ples than Eng­land’s hated trade ri­val, the Dutch. This all came at vast ex­pense, but, once grown, you could wow guests at your coun­try seat, send fruit to woo mar­ried women, or just carry one to the the­atre as an os­ten­ta­tious badge of great wealth.

PINEAP­PLE FOR HIRE

As­pir­ing but cash-strapped society hostesses in 18th-century Bos­ton and New York, where the rev­e­la­tion of the din­ing ta­ble was the high­light of any great din­ner party, would rent a pineap­ple, re­turn­ing the un­eaten fruit to the shop-owner the next day.

PINEAP­PLE AS A HINT

In the Amer­i­can south, if you’ve out­stayed your wel­come as a guest, your hosts will put a pineap­ple at the foot of your bed.

PINEAP­PLE AS A CURSE

Ac­cord­ing to a Filipino proverb, the pineap­ple has a thou­sand eyes be­cause she was orig­i­nally a lit­tle girl cursed by her sick mother for claim­ing she couldn’t find the la­dle to make Mama din­ner. Her mother prayed that her lit­tle girl would grow 1000 eyes so she’d never be able to use that ex­cuse again. It back­fired some­what, the way most curses do. Still, it’s a good story to scare the kids with.

PINEAP­PLE IS DIVINE

Next time some­one tells you that pineap­ple does not be­long in a burger or on pizza, point out that the pineap­ple is divine. The num­ber of eyes on the fruit (rows of eight by 13, or three by five) fol­lows Eu­clid and Fi­bonacci’s prin­ci­ples of divine pro­por­tions.

PINEAP­PLE – SWEET OR SAVOURY

The first pub­lished pineap­ple recipe in English was for a tart us­ing Bar­ba­dos pineap­ple cooked down with Madeira wine. Nice! Christo­pher Colum­bus was the first Euro­pean to taste pineap­ple, but at the feast he came across when he landed in Guade­loupe in 1493 it was be­ing part­nered with a savoury stew… of hu­man body parts. This roast pineap­ple cheese­cake con­tains no body parts – well, un­less you’re care­less with the whisk­ing!

SPICED PINEAP­PLE CHEESE­CAKE

SERVES 10 Be­gin this recipe at least 3 hours ahead.

150g Arnott’s Marie bis­cuits 2 tbs brown su­gar 1 tsp ground car­damom 125g un­salted but­ter, melted 500g cream cheese, soft­ened 395g can sweet­ened con­densed milk Finely grated zest of 1 lemon 3 ti­ta­nium-strength gela­tine leaves 2 egg­whites Chopped toasted macadamias, to serve

PINEAP­PLE GLAZE

500g thinly sliced pineap­ple,

cut into 3cm pieces 11/ 2 cups (330g) caster su­gar Juice of 1 lemon 1 cup (250ml) pineap­ple juice

Pre­heat the oven to 160°C. Grease a 22cm spring­form cake pan and line with bak­ing pa­per.

To make the base, whiz bis­cuits, brown su­gar and car­damom in a food pro­ces­sor un­til finely ground. Add but­ter. Pulse un­til just combined. Press firmly into base of the pre­pared pan. Bake for 12 min­utes or un­til golden. Set aside to cool com­pletely.

To make the fill­ing, place cream cheese, con­densed milk and lemon zest in a stand mixer fit­ted with the pad­dle at­tach­ment and beat un­til smooth. Soak gela­tine in cold wa­ter for 5 min­utes to soften. Squeeze ex­cess wa­ter from gela­tine. Place in a pan over medium heat and cook, stir­ring, un­til just melted. Add to cream cheese mix­ture and beat un­til combined. In a sep­a­rate bowl, whisk egg­whites to soft peaks, then fold through cream cheese mix­ture. Pour over base. Chill for 3 hours or un­til set.

For the glaze, place pineap­ple, su­gar, lemon juice and half the pineap­ple juice in a saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. Re­duce heat to medium and sim­mer, with­out stir­ring, for 25 min­utes or un­til golden. Stir in re­main­ing 1/2 cup (125ml) pineap­ple juice and re­turn to the boil for 20 sec­onds. Cool to room tem­per­a­ture.

Trans­fer cheese­cake to a plate. Pour over glaze and scat­ter with nuts to serve.

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