Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The pineapple test

"Sanitary bags. They put these in my room every day. They know I'm a man!"
- Alan Partridge

What makes a holiday resort feel truly friendly and attentive to its guests' needs?

The cheery greetings from owners and staff when you sit down to breakfast each morning?

Their ability to remember both your names, even if it's only 'Mr. David' on the reservation?

Their staff not chasing down and interrogating your girlfriend when she returns to the resort unaccompanied and has to show the room key to prove she is a legitimate guest and not a sneaky local prospector, and deserves the same treatment as all the other international (i.e. white) women they greet with smiles rather than scrutiny?

We stayed at five borderline-budget resorts during our month in Indonesia, which all gave us more than we really deserved for the price to varying degrees, but they didn't leave us with the same impression. The most effective way I learned to distinguish the false smiles from the sincere warmth was the pineapple test.

What's the deal with pineapples?

Are they, like, wooden apples? Or apples languishing with a broken heart?
Is this thing on?

I don't like pineapple. I don't really like any fruit, to be honest, but I can generally stomach the less in-yer-tastebuds ones like apples, oranges and bananas, though I'd never actively choose to eat them if there was the option of something less healthy and tastier like biscuits.

Dragonfruit, mangosteen and durian can sod off, but to their credit they generally do. It's the seemingly universal popularity of pineapple that confuses and annoys me each breakfast time when it's presented alongside banana, papaya (middle ground of acceptability) and watermelon (basically a crunchy drink) in our free fruit salad. That's right, I'm complaining about something that's free. This is who I am.


Of our five Balinese/Gilinese resorts and guest houses, four provided complimentary breakfasts featuring a selection of tropical fruits but only one immediately cottoned on to the fact that neither of us really liked pineapple, based on the evidence of uneaten pineapple chunks on our plates on the first morning. They commented about this the next day and refrained from spoiling our breakfast with that bromeliaceaen bastard for the rest of the week - they passed the test with flying colours.

Two of the other three (in Padangbai and Candidasa) performed terribly, serving pineapple every morning without fail as we stubbornly refused to start liking it or to explain it to them and save all those wasted pineapples, since doing so would ruin the point of the test. They have to learn it for themselves, and if they're incapable of doing this, even when they see someone curiously photographing their three-quarters-empty plate (pessimist!) before they clear it away, there really is no hope.

Shameful performance from our Candidasa resort.
(I told you I didn't have much on that week)

The final place we stayed (in Kuta) jumped the gun and didn't include pineapple at all. Whether they just have better taste, or word of our preferences had spread through the guest house grape vine (don't really like grapes either), they did best of all, but in doing so unfortunately invalidated themselves from the test. Soz.

You could say this is an unfair test, considering the relative sizes and occupancy of the resorts and whether we were dealing directly with the proprietors each day or a shifting ensemble of uniformed lackeys who wouldn't necessarily have seen us before, but then you always do try to spoil everything. You probably like pineapple as well, don't you? You make me sick.

So well done, Coconut Garden Resort on Gili Trawangan. You get a plug for paying attention, and basically not having any other guests to distract you. Sorry we broke the bike.

I liked your moody, preggers cats too


  1. I like pineapple, I'll have yours. You can have my bland papaya. Save that for last in case you fill up on it and have to waste the good fruits.

    I'm enjoying trying all the new fruits here (here = big continent). Dragon fruit is a bit nothing like papaya, rambutan is okay, mangosteen is ace and sapodilla (basically just caramel fruit) is the best. I still haven't tried durian, does it taste like it smells (off)?

    Also the small bananas here are better than whatever I get back wherever home is.

    1. I only tried a bit of durian in the Cameron Highlands three years ago. Since then I've only smelled it. I remember it being extremely soft and gooey, it reminded me of pasta that had been forgotten about and left in the pan for hours.

      I've been forcing myself to buy more fruit (more than none) since I got back. It helps that fruit is one of the few things that the Philippines actually produces and so isn't more expensive to buy here than in the UK, unlike most of my paradoxical groceries.