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V is for Vanilla

I reopened the freezer, took out the Whole Foods French Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. Even though I was doing this in secret, it cannot have stayed unnoticed for long, but I never heard any remarks regarding my guilty little pleasure.

I always appreciated the taste of vanilla, it was probably that ice cream when I was a teen that made me discover it. I did not know at that time that French Vanilla Bean actually has little to do with France. Normally it is called “Bourbon Vanilla”, in honour of the French dynasty, and refers to a specific origin: Madagascar and La Réunion. For a long time that was all I knew about vanilla, which was prominent to me in the form of vanilla extract and over-priced pods that were rather dry and twig-like.

But vanilla doesn’t have to be that way, actually it should not be that way. Vanilla should be fresh when it is bought, moist to certain point, but not too wet either. It has may different origins (originally from Mexico) that are characterised by different sizes, textures, flavours, and smells. When it comes to cooking with vanilla, you are not limited to deserts only.

What else about vanilla?

  • It’s hand-pollinated
  • Most of it comes from Madagascar
  • Mexico mostly exports to the US
  • Tahitian vanilla is the most expensive
  • It is not yellow!
  • I will soon post on a great book about vanilla.

Written by Solveig Werner

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