Originally cultivated by pre-Columbian Mesoamerican people (think Aztecs), vanilla is derived from orchids. That’s right. Orchids.
Cortes introduced it to the Europeans along with chocolate. Montezuma drank his chocolate flavored with vanilla. Eventually, the orchids came to be grown in Madagascar and Indonesia. Nothing ordinary about this.
Recently, vanilla’s become synonymous with terms like bland, flavorless, banal, tame, and unexciting, but its rich history tells a contrasting tale. Continue Reading →