Vanilla, a Gift from Veracruz to the World

vainilla flor

Photo: Lienzo Culinario

There are little things more seductive than the edible orchid- an aphrodisiac, the second most expensive spice on earth, the coveted pod from yesteryear, traded by the Aztecs as tax payment: vanilla.


According to a Totonac myth, the tropical orchid was born when Princess Xanat, forbidden by her father from marrying a mortal, fled to the forest with her lover. The lovers were captured and beheaded. The vine of the tropical orchid grew, where their blood touched the ground. The delectable smelling yellow Orchid, known as vainilla planifolia, was first cultivated by the Totonac people, who carefully honed their methods of care for the pods.


Although historically forgotten, vanilla was also mixed with cocoa and other spices as a very valued ingredient in xolocatl, the Aztec potion that exported chocolate to the rest of the world.


Even more appreciated for its value, since it can take years to cultivate and cure, its high prices and fame have led to many products, form candles to ice cream, being infused with artificial vanilla flavoring.


Vanilla represents Mexico’s most ancient inhabitants and culture. It is a symbol of our heritage and uniqueness. Of course, if you wish to taste real vanilla, Papantla, the birthplace of vanilla is the best option.


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