Vanilla is a key ingredient in most desserts like ice cream, chocolates, cookies and cakes. The name Vanilla comes from the Spanish word Vainilla, which means Little “Vaina” (Pod) or Sheath. Native to Mexico, Vanilla is a flavoring that comes from the seed of the climbing tropical orchid, the bean being the only edible fruit of the plant. Mexican Vanilla is a darker and thicker bean; it has a strong, smooth, rich aroma, and flavor with a hint of spice.
The first cultivators of vanilla are the Totonacs of Veracruz, Mexico. Considered a sacred herb, the Totonacs used the Vanilla for medicine, in ritual offerings and as a perfume but barely as a flavoring in their dishes. According to Totonac legend, the orchid was born when a Totonac princess by the name of Xanat, was beheaded along with her mortal lover; whom she was forbidden to marry, when they decided to run away together into the forest; and both their blood touched the ground, and then the vine of the tropical orchid grew.
The Aztecs conquered the Totonacs and developed a taste for vanilla, which they named “Tlilxochitl” or “black flower.” Aztecs added to the magic of vanilla by mixing it with chocolate. In a religious ceremony, when Cortez first met Emperor Moctezuma, he was presented with what they considered a Roya Drink; a very special, exotic, drink made with honey, chocolate and vanilla with the name of “Xocohotl”. Impressed with this new flavor, Cortez questioned about this drink’s aroma and delicious flavor, the Aztecs in return told him it was Vanilla (Little Sheath). Cortez is credited with introducing both chocolate and vanilla to Europe after he was blown away with this fabulous drink. It is said that he took a supply of Vanilla beans upon his return to Spain, with the purpose of adding aroma and flavor to please the King.
During that time, Vanilla became a select beverage to all Royalty and Aristocrats in Europe due to its rarity and high shipping cost. An attempt was made during the next 300 years, to transplant Mexican Vanilla throughout various tropical parts of the world without success.
The climbing Orchid produced beautiful flowers and foliage but never Vanilla pods. It was later discovered that the tlilxochitl; the vine that produced the vanilla orchid, had a symbiotic relationship with a little creature; the Melipona bee which provided the orchid blooms with the pollination needed for vanilla to grow. The Melipona Bee only exists in Mexico; this being the main reason why Mexican Vanilla is considered the King of Vanillas. The most genuine and rich vanilla can be found in Veracruz, Mexico, near the Gulf of Mexico. Due to the lengthy labor need to grow, harvest and cure the vanilla beans, the reason why vanilla is considered the second most expensive spice after Saffron.
To get the flavor of vanilla, all you have to do is add vanilla extract to your food. Natural vanilla will give your food a brown to yellow color, depending on the concentration and how much you use. Vanilla is mainly used in ice cream, being vanilla a very popular flavor and considered by many default or plain. Vanilla is used to make creme sauces, puddings, custards and soufflés. Vanilla flavor can be found in many confectionary and chocolate delicacies.
MexGrocer brings you the best brands of Vanilla extracts so you can give your food the mystique of Mexican Vanilla as well as enhance the flavor of favorite desserts. Make delicious cakes, cookies, flans, milkshakes, ice cream, yogurts, drinks, and many other delicious delicacies with Molina Vanilla, Real Vanilla Extract from Mexico, and Mayan Mexican Vanilla, all available to you at the click of a button.