Pineapples are popular everywhere, and used in these parts as part of the marinade for the pork in tacos al pastor. They also show up in sorbets, sweet sugar-dusted empanadas called pastelitos, and of course, boozy cocktails.
But we like them best when just fresh, cut in chunks. When you eat a pineapple raw, ever notice your tongue going a little fuzzy? That’s because the pineapple is doing its thing – the very thing we expect it to do when it’s tenderizing meat: penetrating proteins.
That means the pineapple is eating you back.
Bromelain is the active ingredient in pineapple that creates this effect, but more significantly, it’s what makes pineapples good for your digestion. Absorbed by the body intact, bromelain also is a natural anti-inflammatory for conditions such as arthritis.
Mainly grown in Veracruz but also produced commercially on the peninsula, pineapples are also a favorite in family orchards, notes David Sterling in “Yucatan: A Culinary Expedition.” Here, pineapple harvest time is coming up in a few months, although the fruit is available all year long.
Pineapples are indigenous to South America, and eventually reached the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico, where it was cultivated by the Mayas and the Aztecs.