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Distributed for Reaktion Books


A Global History

Distributed for Reaktion Books


A Global History

Intoxicating and evocative, vanilla is so much more than a spice rack staple. It is a flavor that has defined the entire world—and its roots reach deep into the past. With its earliest origins dating back seventy million years, the history of vanilla begins in ancient Mesoamerica and continues to define and enhance today’s traditions and customs. It has been used by nearly every culture as a spice, a perfume, and even a potent aphrodisiac, while renowned figures from Louis XIV to Casanova and Thomas Jefferson have been captivated by its aroma and taste. Featuring recipes, facts, and fables, Vanilla unravels the delightfully rich history, mystery, and essence of a flavor that reconnects us to our own heritage.

160 pages | 44 color plates, 9 halftones | 4 3/4 x 7 3/4


Food and Gastronomy

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“Abreu-Runkel’s Vanilla is anything but—if that word is taken to mean bland or predictable. . . . [She] comes from the Dominican Republic and certainly doesn’t shy away from some of the uncomfortable truths associated with the product and its cultivation. . . . This is a lovely little book—something to comfort the reader during the cold winter evenings ahead.”

Morning Star

“This enjoyable and informative book sheds light on a fascinating topic. Who knew the story of this temperamental little orchid has such an interesting history? This fun volume takes readers on a whirlwind tour across the centuries, and across the planet. Readers are treated to a brief and entertaining history of vanilla’s production and consumption. Abreu writes that both Queen Elizabeth I and Giacomo Casanova used vanilla to supplement their sexual prowess, and Thomas Jefferson started a vanilla ice cream rage in the United States after he discovered it in Paris. Vanilla’s role in food manufacturing and the fragrance industry are explored, including the dark side of its production and its future on a volatile planet. Brimming with colorful photos and useful facts, this book also contains recipes and links to useful sources to purchase quality vanilla, as well as links to learn more about this remarkable plant.”

Claire Stewart, author of "As Long as We Both Shall Eat: A History of Wedding Food and Feasts"

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