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Vanilla : the cultural history of the world's most popular flavor and fragrance
Rain, Patricia
Adult Nonfiction SB307.V2 R25 2004

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Ever wonder how to tell mildew from crystallized essence on those vanilla beans in your cupboard? Ever hear about the 17th-century Jewish vanilla curers of Guyana? Need a recipe for Chipotle-Vanilla Salsa? Thanks to her extensive experience in the vanilla field (Rain's a vanilla broker, president of the Vanilla.COMpany, and author of The Vanilla Cookbook), Rain can discuss everything from the various international terms for the hand-pollination of vanilla flowers to the ethical issues raised by synthetic vanilla. In this surprisingly comprehensive survey, she takes readers through the history of vanilla production from Mexico to Indonesia, covering relatively obscure producers like the French island of R?union, as well as Madagascar and the nearby Comoro Islands. While the vanilla orchid is sensuous and aesthetically pleasing, the story (as Rain presents it) of how various colonial powers subjugated indigenous producers to reap the profits from its cultivation is not as pretty. Rain leavens this sometimes depressing history with recipes, folkloric tales and personal vignettes. While few readers may want to drink even a modern adaptation of Aztec hot chocolate or prepare an Indonesian rice pudding with "black glutinous rice," pandan leaf and palm sugar syrup, Rain's advice on choosing and using vanilla in the home kitchen is quite useful. Photos, illus. Agent, Judy Capodanno. (Nov.) FYI: This is the second book on vanilla in recent months, after Tim Ecott's Vanilla, which Grove published in June (Forecasts, May 3). (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Acknowledging but marveling at the fact that the term vanilla is commonly used today as an adjective equivalent to plain or ho-hum, this work traces the agricultural, botanical, culinary, and cultural history of the plant and flavor, vanilla. Certainly the tale satisfies anyone's taste for adventure, with ample power plays, riches gained and lost, botanical discoveries, and world travel. Rain (Vanilla Cookbook) leads readers through the dynamic story of vanilla, beginning in central Mexico and continuing across the world to such disparate places as Tahiti, the West Indies, and the United States. Thorough and lively, but possibly a bit too exhaustive in coverage for the casual reader, the text is punctuated with sidebars highlighting recipes both ancient and contemporary, short biographical accounts of key players, and additional details on related scientific, anthropological, and culinary topics. Interested parties may also want to consider Tim Ecott's Vanilla: Travels in Search of the Ice Cream Orchid. Appropriate for academic and public libraries, though possibly a bit narrow in focus for smaller collections.-Courtney Greene, DePaul Univ. Lib., Chicago, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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