Peel the pineapple, slice, and cut into wedges, removing the core. Set aside.
Combine sugar, water or pineapple juice, lemon juice, and vanilla bean in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pineapple, cover and cook 5 minutes or until the pineapple is tender. Using a perforated spoon, remove pineapple from syrup.
Reduce syrup by one-fourth, and add rum (optional). Pour over pineapple, and allow to cool. Add freshly ground pepper.
Serve as a dessert with vanilla chiffon sauce or ice cream, or serve as an accompaniment to an entrée.