Vanilla

Vanilla is the only spice being part of the aristocratic family of orchids. It was as recently as 1829, in Saint Suzanne, an island from the Indian Ocean Reunion archipelago, named Bourbon island until 1789, that Edmond Albius, a young gardener slave of 12 years discovered an easy and reliable process to manually pollinate vanilla. Today it is grown on diverse soils and lands: the Bourbon vanilla originating from the Indian Ocean is fruity and smooth and used to flavor ice creams, pastries, white meat and fish. Vanilla originating from Tahiti and the French West Indies shows a somewhat sweet trend with added notes of gingerbread or prune and may be used as to spice up a scallops carpaccio. As for Edmond himself, who, even though his discovery made a lot of local planters very wealthy, just turn out to be hired as a local garrison army officer’s cook, he finally died poor and miserable in 1880.

A Gourmet's notebook