Alhough there are over one hundred different types of beans growing in tropical regions all over the world, commercially-available vanilla comes from only three sources: Bourbon-Madagascar, Mexican, and Tahitian pods. Each of the varieties has its own characteristic flavor and appearance, though soil, climate, and curing methods can all affect the bean’s character. The Bourbon-Madagascar beans, which account for about three-quarters of the world’s vanilla bean crop, are thin, rich, and sweet, with a thick, oily skin. The wider Mexican bean is somewhat more rare. These beans have a smooth, mellow flavor, but must be purchased with some care and from reliable sources since some Mexican vanilla products have been found to contain an FDA-banned toxin, coumarin. Tahitian vanilla beans, the shortest, plumpest, and darkest of the three, are extremely aromatic, but somewhat less flavorful. These pods also tend to contain fewer seeds.
Boning up for a recent trip to Toronto, I came across the query posited by Chris Lumsdon in Toronto magazine, “Do cities dream?” He goes on to write, “If people, then why not cities?” France may dream of fashion and London may dream of its history, but Toronto, he states, has the same recurring dream of what it can be Continue reading →
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