How pineapples became a status symbol

"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 lover's 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...

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