Strawberry Leaves and other Fruitful Images

Nicola here. Perhaps it’s because everything feels so serious at the moment with political upheavals all around the world, but today I decided to be a bit frivolous and blog about fruit. Way back in 2015 I wrote a blog on the Word Wenches about pineapples and their significance as symbols of wealth and status. I was reminded about this a week ago when I went on a special tour of the Ashdown estate, into the nooks and crannies where we are normally not allowed to visit. There, tucked away in a barn, were some truly enormous stone pineapples which used to adorn the gateposts at the bottom of the drive! I’d never seen them before, or even any pictures of them, so it was amazing to see this throwback to an earlier age of the house. If you were meant to judge a family’s wealth and its prestige by the size of their pineapples, then the Craven family had some huge ones!

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Meeting new fruits

Wench  John Sherrin (1819-1896)- Still lifeJoanna here. I was eating a kiwi fruit the other day. It showed up coyly snuggled next to a breakfast sandwich sold to me by the delightful ladies who run the catering and breakfast bar at the Rockfish Gap Community Center. I found myself trying to remember when I’d first seen kiwi. I was young and they showed up in the grocery store one day and my mother, who was a wild woman in her own way, brought them home and figured out how to serve them. They were just mind-bogglingly exotic to me. Furry fruits. I rather distrusted them.

Wench fruit 2

There are many different kinds of kiwi fruits, not just the ones in US supermarkets

Kiwis apparently came from China and were originally called “Chinese gooseberries” as they spread around the world. The Chinese called them "macaque peaches" but that didn't catch on so much. The fruit was popularized in the US by WWII servicemen who’d met them while stationed in New Zealand. And they seem to come to the store from California, not New Zealand. Life is a rich pageant of happenstance, isn't it?

“Hmmm,” I hmmed to myself while I was feeding much of my breakfast sandwich to the dog Mandy but eating all the kiwis, “What did my Georgian and Regency heroine encounter as new and exciting fruit as she went about her adventures?” Kiwis and avocados hadn’t arrived in her world. Apples and apricots and even dates were known from Roman times and before.

I thought of two possibles.

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