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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

The Pineapple

Ladies and Gentlemen, gather round. Thank you for coming to this exhibition.

By way of introduction, I’m Reggie, and I’m a Scottish Genealogist: that means I bring dead people back to life – well, not quite – I surf the Internet looking for juicy tidbits about my ancestors and relatives. For example, recently I found a Mark Shafto up in the lofty branches of my tree – my eighth great-grandfather. With a bit of digging I was able to discover that he was also a great-great-grandfather of “Bobby Shafto” – yes, that’s right, the one who’s “gone to sea, silver buckles at his knee.” For me, that’s a fun addition to the stories on the family tree.

So here we are beside the Pineapple. And what a glorious pineapple it is. This is you. Look how beautiful you are. Look at how you shine out from the centre of the world. Observe how the glades spread around you, stretching to the very edges of your universe. These are your ancestors, your forebears who brought you into this world. They love you, they admire you, they support you, they nourish you. Notice, too, the smaller plume of leaves sprouting from your head. These are your children. They depend on you. They reach to the very heavens. They tell you that you will live forever.

So, why am I excited by a pineapple, Ladies and Gentlemen? Well, step this way, if you please.

Here we have Chapter 85 of the Theatrum Botanicum from 1626, where we read: “The Pines (so much esteemed for the most excellent and pleasant sweet fruit in all the West Indies) is the fruit of a kind of Thistle.”

And, to a Scottish genealogist, that’s like finding a brother.

Reggie Thomson

[in response to Theodorus Netscher’s pineapple painting grown in Sir Matthew Decker’s garden, but also John Parkinson’s Theatrum Botanicum]

Theodorus Netscher’s pineapple painting grown in Sir Matthew Decker’s garden
Theodorus Netscher’s pineapple painting grown in Sir Matthew Decker’s garden
John Parkinson’s Theatrum Botanicum
John Parkinson’s Theatrum Botanicum
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