Wednesday, August 4, 2010


My Dad once told me that the top 5 foods eaten world wide are all from the New World. I think they are: tomatoes, corn, potatoes & sweet potatoes, beans, squash. OK that's 6, maybe sweet potatoes and potatoes are one group.

Then, of course, there are peanuts, bell and chili peppers, avocados, pumpkins and a lot of fruits: banana, mango, grapefruit, pineapple, and blueberries among them. And turkey.

And chocolate. We can't forget chocolate.

But I've just learned that vanilla is also from the New World. First cultivated in pre-Columbian Mexico, it was brought back to Spain along with chocolate. Vanilla is from the Spanish word meaning 'little pod'. It has a complicated pollination process involving symbiotic relationships between a local bee and the vine producing the pods. It wasn't until a 12 year old slave figured out how to hand-pollinate them that they could be grown world-wide.

The picture is vanilla pods on the vine, did you guess? I got it from the internet.

1 comment:

peaceable_tate said...

It makes you wonder what they ate in Europe before the discovery of the New World.