Sugar Cane, Bananas, Pineapples and Coconut
There were several foods that were popular throughout history that grow in island homes. And they are still popular today! Here is a little history about four of the most famous cultivated tropical foods.
Sugar Cane: Sugarcane is actually a tall, tropical grass first cultivated in India. Sugarcane started its process of taking over the world in China. There the Chinese learned how to turn the tall grass into sugar. If you have ever chewed on a piece of raw sugarcane, you know it is not that sweet. The process of refining the sugarcane into sugar concentrates the sweetness. From China, the “sweet salt” began to spread to Europe and the Mediterranean. It was first used largely medicinally. By the 1700s, sugarcane cultivation became a huge industry and the world has never looked back!
Bananas: Bananas were first discovered in Asia in the country of New Guinea. Bananas are technically classified as a berry and shouldn’t be confused with their larger, starchier cousin, the plantain. The Portuguese spread the banana to other tropical locations. Vast banana plantains use to be found in the Caribbean and Central and South America. They are still one of the most popular tropical fruits today.
Pineapples: Pineapples were first cultivated in South America where it is an indigenous plant. Pineapples are a shrub whose many individual flowers combine to make a single fruit. Once again, the Portuguese had a hand in spreading the pineapple around the world especially to tropical locations where it thrives. In Colonial America and even today, pineapples stand as a sign of hospitality as their cost during those times made the exotic fruit a display of wealth.
Coconut: One of the most widely used tropical fruits was first cultivated in South East Asia and India. Today the coconut palm can be found all over the world! This time it was the Spanish that spread the coconut around the world. One of the most unique things about this tropical fruit is that every part of it can be used. From the coconut fiber to the coconut shell to the coconut meat itself, this plant is a huge contributor to world cuisine!