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Posts Tagged ‘vanilla

“The exchangeable value of all commodities rises as the difficulties of their production increase”*…

 

vanilla

A vanilla flower is pollinated by hand

 

 

Though Madagascar now produces 80% of the world’s vanilla, the vine is native to Mexico. The Maya were the first to cultivate it in the jungles of the Yucatan peninsular. They flavoured their chocolate drink with the spice. When the Spanish conquistadores arrived early in the 16th century, they took both cacao and vanilla back to Europe. By the end of the 18th century, Mexico was exporting a million vanilla beans a year to Europe.

Vanilla was considered a luxury. Its delicate flavour is best expressed in the presence of fat, which is why the creams and custards of the elite’s pastry chefs became its natural milieu. One of its earliest appearances was in a recipe for “vanilla ice” in a cookery book published in Naples in the 1690s. Thomas Jefferson fell in love with French food when he served as the American ambassador to France in the 1780s. He transcribed many recipes including one for “ice cream”, using egg-yolk custard simmered with “a stick of vanilla”. When he became president in 1801, Jefferson served these dishes in the White House – his import eventually became a classic American desert.

But for well over a century real vanilla remained out of the reach of most Americans. Spain controlled the Mexican trade and though a number of people tried to grow vanilla elsewhere, the blooms failed to produce beans because they lacked natural pollinators. It took a young slave boy called Edmond Albius, working on a plantation in the French colony of Réunion, to discover a method for hand-pollinating vanilla flowers in the 1840s. His technique quickly spread to nearby Madagascar, where French administrators encouraged its cultivation…

How did hunger for the humble vanilla pod lead to greed, crime and riches? “Vanilla Fever.”

* David Ricardo

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As we rethink our Starbucks orders, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908 that John Albert Krohn dressed up in colonial garb and set out to win $1,000 by walking the U.S. border within 400 days – pushing a wheelbarrow.  “Colonial Jack,” as he called himself, had wagered ten of his neighbors in Newburyport, Mass., that he could circumnavigate the country in that time. agreeing that, if he lost, he would give them 2,000 copies of the book he planned to write about his adventure.  In the end, he made the trek in 357 days, having rested on Sundays.  It was the second of three such round-the-nation walks Krohn undertook.

He had to meet several conditions: He had to push the wheelbarrow to show he couldn’t get a ride. And he had to get cancellation stamps from 635 post offices along the way.

By the end of his journey, Krohn walked 9,024 miles and visited 1,209 cities. He went through 11 pairs of shoes, 112 pairs of socks and five wheels and three tires on the wheelbarrow. The trip cost an average of $3.25 per day.  [source]

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Colonial Jack

source

 

Written by LW

June 1, 2019 at 1:01 am

“You know why the French hate us so much? They gave us the croissant… We turned it into our croissandwich”*…

 

There’s a looming crisis in France.  Over the last year, the wholesale price of butter there has almost doubled, to over $5,000 per ton.  Exploding demand in Asia and a shifting of producer priorities to cheese and cream help explain the spike.

But whatever the reasons, it’s creating a tight squeeze for the 30,000 bakeries in France (a $9.5 Billion industry); butter is 25% of the ingredient make-up of a croissant.

More at “Croissant Apocalypse.”

* Denis Leary

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As we eat ’em if we have ’em, we might recall that today– the birthday of Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, who won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for the discovery of vitamins– is National Vanilla Milkshake Day.

 source

 

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