I hate pineapple. I think it is a deplorable fruit, too sweet and overwhelming, apparent in so many Pacific Rim and Caribbean-style dishes. And I say this with no hesitation, as a food lover, and fully aware of the significance pineapple has played in the shaping of Hawaiian history. But I cannot help my bias—it runs long and deep.
As with most of my issues today, I can blame my mother for this. Well, her and the Beverly Hills Diet. This was one of those fad diets in the ‘80s which entailed something called “Conscious Combining,” which basically meant you had to eat whole fruits—strawberries, papayas, watermelon, etc.—and nothing else for the first 10 days.
Sounds easy, right? Except that you couldn’t combine fruits. For instance, if you were eating watermelon, you had to eat the watermelon in its entirety, including seeds, and nothing else, morning to night.
On the day that I was supposed to eat three whole pineapples, and nothing but pineapples, I got the runs. My mouth broke out in bloody, painful sores. And my stomach felt like a World War II minefield. It was a special feeling that I can recall nearly every time I see, smell or—god forbid—have to once again, taste a pineapple.
Although seriously skewed, what the diet was honing in on was the pineapple’s amazing holistic properties. It has tons of Vitamins A and C, as well as an enzyme called Bromelain, which has been used to treat heart disease, arthritis, upper respiratory infections and is an important aid to the digestive system.
Needless to say, the herbaceous perennial became Hawai’i’s second largest industry in the early 1900’s. Apparently, I have my own people to blame; Spaniards introduced the pineapple to King Kamehameha in 1813. But then, nearly a century later, James Drummond Dole harvested his own pineapples on Oahu, founding the Hawaiian Pineapple Company and creating a legacy of canned pineapple for the rest of the nation to savor.
They even went on to become a symbol of hospitality, which makes sense here on the islands, despite its overwhelming awfulness. So if you must have this obnoxious spiky fruit, give it a go at the Pineapple Grill, where you can have a tangy pineapple coleslaw with your sandwich or caramelized pineapple and soy butter sauce with a pistachio-wasabi pea seared ahi.
Or try ruining your pizza with the ever popular “Hawaiian” combo—that’s ham and pineapple, of course—at your favorite local pizzeria. As far as desserts go, some would also say that Pacific’O’s banana pineapple lumpia is delicious, as well as the pineapple flambe at WM. But I’d imagine these same people probably also like eggplant.
Oh, don’t get me started.
Pineapple Grill, 200 Kapalua Dr., Kapalua, 669-9600; Pacific’O, 505 Front St., Lahaina, 667-4341; WM The Restaurant, 3350 L. Honoapi’ilani Rd., Honokowai, 667-7898; pizza locations island-wide. (SC)