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Strawberry Vanilla Chocolate
For centuries we have enjoyed the sweet goodness of chocolate, strawberry and the “simple” but much-loved taste of vanilla. These ancient flavours have come to us from the most exotic places in the world years ago, and have still kept a constant place at the top of our favorites’ list. As much as we love them, it is unclear how these,three of the most exotic flavours of the time, have come to be the standard of modern-day taste.
All three came to us with the influence of the West. By means of trade with the Native American Indians, vanilla, chocolate and certain sub-species of strawberries were brought into the European world. America was once a mass supplier in the spice world; it is no wonder Columbus called the people Indians! Among the many fruits and herbs found in these native lands, three of today’s most popular originated. Strawberry, chocolate and vanilla flavouring were all influenced or brought in from the Americas to European society. They are known to any sweet-toothed someone in the developed as well as developing world are always the three main favorites.
However much we love them today, some were not fully acknowledged for their true capabilities back then. When presented with a load of cacao (chocolate) beans as a gift from the native Americans, Christopher Columbus discarded several tons of them thinking they were turds of sheep dung. Strawberries too for a long time were not eaten by Europeans until about the time they discovered them in South America. Much of these plants’ potential was unknown until it was taught to the Europeans by the very advanced Native Americans.
Ninety-nine out of 100 times you ask someone what they think of vanilla, they will tell you it is boring and simple. Most will go for the richer chocolaty or sweeter strawberry flavors when given the choice, but vanilla is always thought to be too plain. It is quite revolutionary (extraordinary) to find that vanilla- the plainest of them all- actually proves to be the most exotic. Growing only in the humid, tropical climates found along the Equator, it is thereby made a plant only natively found in the deep forests of Tahiti, Mexico, Madagascar and Guatemala. It originally came from the small areas of Southeast, South America brought in by European explorers to the outside world, as always, by means of trade.
But however widespread the flavouring of vanilla, few have sampled the diving flavouring of the true vanilla bean. Because of its fairly incompromisable growing conditions, it is the second most expensive on the spice market today which is why people find loopholes to experience the flavor anyway. Most often the flavour of the vanilla found in ice creams, milkshakes and other flavoured drinks is only an imitation of the real bean. Certain factories actually take real vanilla beans and extract a small amount of their flavour into a bottle which they sell for cheaper than the actual pod goes for with the flavour contained within each bottle is only a small imprint of the real deal. The true essence of the vanilla orchid is sparely known to the vast majority of the world, and is thereby noted as a simple taste, nothing more.
But the true essence of this spice is quite the contrary- not only does it come from the only fruit-bearing orchid of its kind, but it also produces a resonant, unique taste that can vary from an intense, dark aroma to an innocently sweet, pure seasoning. It all depends on its cultivation and where exactly it is grown. There are three major producers of all the vanilla on the shelf; Reunion and Madagascar, Mexico, and the rarest sample to find, the Tahitian. While the African kind forms a deep, succulent taste developed from the same native Mexican variation,Vanilla Planiflora, the Tahitian forms an innocently sweet, flowery flavour that is often considered quite odd. This species, Vanilla Tahitensis, is very difficult to find and is often considered to be less valuable than the original kind. Whatever the case, the true vanilla is a rich flavour that is just as rich as the all-time favorite taste of chocolate.
A recent survey done in 2011 of all the U.S. adults found that chocolate is the all-time American favorite. There is no doubt that this is the favorite flavour in the world, but it is questionable why we love it so much. Well, we have always noted it as a sort of uplifter- it does make us happy! There are many complex chemicals within its make up with some made to have that effect. It contains caffeine, tyranine, and tryphlan which our brain converts to dopante and serotonin. These chemicals together with certain cannabinoids create almost the same effect as marijuana, however the concentration is too low for the full effect that it is illegal for. Chocolate does contain opiods found also in opium which cause give us a “feel-good” uplift with another phenylethylamine component raising our blood pressure only slightly, sometimes making people “hyperactive” for a while.
This spice really is very complex all on its own being made up of 380 known chemicals to science, with however many still undiscovered, but still, with all its complexity, we like to add more flavor to it for the “real” chocolate that we know and love today. The original xocoatl which the Aztecs drank contained very hot water, vanilla, and chili peppers for seasoning, and was ritually drunk by the nobles and kings. This “food of the Gods” as the Europeans called it was scouted by explorers and brought back to Spain in the 1500s.
There is argument over who actually brought the cacao, or rather cocoa beans (since the Europeans could not pronounce the real name)to Europe. Some credit Columbus with bringing chocolate to Europe, but seeing as he burned a cargo full of what he thought was sheep dung, but was really cacao beans, this seems unlikely. Others support Cortes, another European explorer, for bringing the delicacy to the rest of the world-but no one knows for sure.
It is said that the Spaniards kept it secret for 100 years, but some speculate that this is just as long as it took for chocolate to become popular in Europe. They did disliked the raw bitterness of the drink, so they added some of the then “European”, but really Native American spices of vanilla, cinnamon, black peppers, and most importantly, cane sugar, for sweetening. This brought “Chocolate Houses” up into place that offered “hot cocoa” derived from the original Aztec recipe, and chocolate truly became popular. It was renowned for its sweetness and was much appreciated by the rich who could afford to have it.
“Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God ever did”
-Dr. William Butler, 17th century English writer.
For a long time, there was argument over the use of strawberries. They were grown as early as 234 B.C. by the French over fields on the Alpine mountains, also used by the Italians. However, they were found by European explorers also growing in South America in 1588. Clusters of these berries would be found growing nearly everywhere with excess tossed in with piles of straw, but astonishingly, no one actually ate them! A strawberry is actually not a fruit; it is nothing more than the outgrowth of the flower it grows from. Therefore, people thought they were inedible,and left these abundant “fake fruit” to rot when they were not used.
In olden Italy of circa 200 B.C. and the surrounding area in Europe, strawberries were first grown, but only to be used in medicine. They were given to patients to cure rheumatic gout,indigestion, and skin diseases. The pretty berries were also found to be great for cosmetics and facial care by a Madame Theresa Tallien, a well-respected French lady. Because of her, they are used today in most shampoos, moisturizers, soaps, and many other forms of skin care. Her influence on Napoleon’s court helped bring fame to her habit of bathing in water filled with strawberries. It was not until the 18th century that a Swedish botanist called Charles Linnaeus put the long-lived rumour circulating the berries down proving that consuming them was not only safe, but also a great way of absorbing valuable nutrients and vitamins that helped cure disease.
Wherever you go, whatever sweet you taste, it is nearly always offered in three distinct flavours: strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. These three of what were the most exotic, sometimes and even still the most expensive delicacies in the “western” world are now the standard all over. These flavours are offered in ice cream, candy, milkshakes, and many more sugary delicacies that we love. They have been rejected, neglected, and discredited by different people in the world in the past. But however much they were abused before; they are truly appreciated by most today for their sweet taste and favorite flavour.