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What is hospitality? What does it mean to be hospitable? I spent 4 years at University in Ireland studying Hospitality Management and I still find it hard to define.

I turned to my friends at to see what they said. They defined hospitality as: “receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.” Others words used are, “warmth, cordiality, congeniality and friendliness.”

So how does that translate into our everyday lives? Posts on this page are related to how we can be hospitable in our own homes.

Fresh pineapple with other fruit.
Fresh pineapple with other fruit.

The Pineapple as a Symbol of Hospitality

Pineapples have been a symbol of hospitality for over five centuries.

Supposedly, Christopher Columbus discovered pineapples growing in clusters when he landed on the island of Guadeloupe in 1493. He decided to take this intriguing fruit back to his financial sponsor – King Ferdinand of Spain.

Less than a hundred years after pineapples made their debut on European land, they were being shipped regularly from the Caribbean to Europe. The fruit often rotted by the time it arrived. This made the pineapple a rare luxury few could afford. The estimated cost for one pineapple would have been around $7,000 in today’s dollars.

In order to showcase this extraordinary fruit, pineapples became the showpiece on any extravagant banquet table. Guests felt intimidated and honored by this display of grandiosity and generosity.

As time went on, Europeans journeyed to the Caribbean where they found pineapples hanging outside the homes of the native people. The Europeans made a connection that this was a sign of welcome. By the beginning of the 18th century, the image of the pineapple was often painted on China. Craftmens carved or sculpted pineapple images onto pillars at the entrances to palaces, churches and grand homes throughout the British Isles and France.

By the 1700s, Europeans started growing their own pineapples in hothouses. One of these hothouses established by Wills Hill, the First Marquess of Downshire, was in the village of Hillsborough in County Down, Northern Ireland. He created one of the earliest ‘pineries’ in Ireland, in the grounds of his Hillsborough estate. The existing two pineapple houses are currently in ruins. Check out how they are being restored, as part of the major restoration project at the Castle. I’m looking forward to seeing their progress during my next visit to the Province.


One way to be hospitable is to open your home to family or friends for a Fondue party. Swiss Cheese Fondue is easy, quick and fairly inexpensive to make. Invite guests over earlier and have them participate in the preparation of it. Little to no skill required. Don’t worry if you don’t have a fondue set, the ‘Flexibility with Equipment’ section will help you be resourceful with equipment you already have in your kitchen.

Fondue is a cold weather treat that brings loved ones around a pot of gooey melted cheese. There’s lots of dipping, chatting and fun rules to follow (See the ‘Tip From Me’ section.)

So check out my Swiss Cheese Fondue recipe and let me know how your get together goes!


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