September 16, 2010

The pineapple at the end of the bed

Houseguests: it's nice when they come. And it's nice when they leave. A weeklong visit is OK. Longer? Well, let's just say that stays exceeding seven days might call for a pineapple.

In colonial America, the pineapple was a symbol of welcome and hospitality. Since pineapples came at great expense by ship from the Caribbean, if a hostess served pineapple to her guests they felt honored, knowing she'd spared no expense on their visit.

But, as I learned on a tour of Louisiana's Oak Alley Plantation, the pineapple was also used to kick guests out.

If you were a houseguest who awoke one morning to find a pineapple sitting at the foot of your bed, it meant you'd overstayed your welcome.

Such a versatile fruit.