Friday, December 4, 2009

How to Carve a Pineapple

At the Sea Foam Haciendas in Barbados we call her Edith. Her real name is pronounced E-dith-shan, spelling unknown. She is 88 years old has been picking fruit and vegetables and bringing them to tourists and locals on Worthing Beach for more than 40 years.

Tall and thin in her colorful house dresses, she has a weathered face from someone who has spent her life outdoors and her smile proudly shows her few remaining teeth. She also has the good health of someone who works hard and eats what she sells. She carries her daily harvest in a hand-woven basket on her head with the ease of someone half her age. She also enjoys the beer someone at Sea Foam gives her each day.

(Photo above by Derek Lepper of Derek Lepper Photography)

Her daily harvest includes bananas, big brown avocados, oranges and tomatoes. But what she is known for is pineapples. Before Maria and I knew her name, we used to call her the Pineapple Lady. It’s not so much the quality of the pineapples she sells (although they are fresh and delicious) but it’s her trademark trimming and carving of the fruit. With a small knife that looks almost as old as she is, trims the sides of the fruit and then sets to carving the fruit in lines to create a flower-like pattern. It takes her just a few minutes to complete the job. It not only looks attractive enough to use as a centerpiece for a table but it makes it easy to eat.

Edith told us Tuesday in her staccato-like voice and Bajan dialect, she will be retiring soon. Maybe when she reaches 90. One certainly cannot blame her considering the physical nature of her work. But when she does retire she will be missed.

Below is a video of her plying her signature design to a pineapple:

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