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Showing posts from October, 2009

Vanilla Buttermilk Pancakes

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I’ve often said that chocolate is one of the two original and best flavours on the planet. What I don’t often mention is that vanilla is the other.

I recently discovered, much to my surprise and delight, that vanilla is the fruit of an orchid plant from Madagascar. In fact, the vanilla planifolia vine was transported to Madagascar from Mexico (and other French colonies) in the early 1800s. The vanilla plant is actually a vine, usually found winding itself around a bamboo plant or coconut tree, which grows an orchid-type flower. In Mexico, the vanilla flower is pollinated by a bee. Outside of Mexico, the bee cannot survive, so pollination is undertaken by human hand – a laborious process which is responsible for the incredibly expensive price of vanilla bean pods. The mature pods are harvested from the vine and dried to reduce the moisture content, thereby producing the distinct vanilla aroma we all know and love.

I never stopped to question where vanilla came from before. Yet lik…