Vanilla, the quintessence of flavor that graces everything from the most delicate vanilla cake recipes to the richest vanilla bean ice cream, begins its storied journey as a treasured vanilla bean extract within Mexico's lush landscapes. It is here, in the ancient societies of the Totonacs, that the cultivation of the vanilla orchid first became a cultural cornerstone, long before it was infused into vanilla for cakes and vanilla for ice cream around the world.
The Birthplace of Mexican Vanilla Extract
The history of vanilla extract is as complex as its flavors. The Totonacs, who first cultivated the vanilla orchid, regarded it as a sacred gift from the gods. When the Aztecs conquered the Totonacs, they adopted vanilla into their rich culinary traditions, using it to enhance their chocolate drink 'xocolātl'—a treat so divine it was considered fit for the gods themselves.
The Aztec Influence
This luxurious combination of vanilla and chocolate was first encountered by the Spanish conquistadors, led by Hernán Cortés, who were so enchanted by the aromatic flavor that they brought vanilla extract back to Europe. There, it quickly became a sensation, a flavor sought after by nobility and commoners alike, eager to experience the enchanting taste of the New World.
The Challenge of Cultivation
The true magic of vanilla lies in its complexity, not just in flavor but in its cultivation. The vanilla bean extract of old was a product of a delicate symbiosis between the vanilla orchid and its natural pollinator, the Melipona bee. When vanilla stepped outside its native land, this relationship was no more, leading to the need for hand-pollination—an art form mastered by Edmond Albius, whose technique is still used to produce the finest vanilla extract from vanilla beans today.
The Richness of Mexican Vanilla
In the contemporary culinary landscape, Mexican vanilla extract stands out. At Aztec Vanilla, we harness the rich, bold flavor profile that is unique to the best vanilla beans for extract sourced from Mexico. Our commitment to quality means crafting a pure vanilla extract that upholds the deep cultural heritage and natural integrity that Edmond Albius and the many unnamed farmers and producers before him have bestowed upon this extraordinary spice.
As we continue to savor the warmth and complexity of real vanilla extract in our favorite desserts, it's with a nod to the past—acknowledging that every drop of Aztec Vanilla is a continuation of a historical voyage that began thousands of years ago, within the heart of Mexico's verdant orchid groves.
Your Aztec Vanilla Team