[Sca-cooks] Vanilla [was: Sweet chocolate, Modican chocolate (OOP -- maybe)]

Johnna Holloway johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu
Mon Aug 27 16:06:27 PDT 2007

 I did a long summary of research on vanilla back in January 2003

 in answer to a thread and queries on MK-Cooks. 

The Hugh Morgan association is very suspect, even if it appear on the 
web and is repeated in the Florilegium.

"Then, in 1602, Hugh Morgan, apothecary to

Queen Elizabeth I, suggested that vanilla

could be used as a flavoring all by itself,

and the versatility of the exotic bean was finally uncovered."


[note the source of the story]

This story is repeated in the Florilegium, but cites

another flavouring company.

Oddly, enough Andrew Dalby repeats "It was Hugh Morgan,

apothecary to Oueen Elizabeth I, who is said to have

suggested the use of vanilla as a flavouring for other foods."

Dangerous Tastes, p.148.


If the Hugh Morgan connection is true, then the uses seem

to have been medicinal. It may well occur in medicinal recipes

in the 17th century, but there don't seem to be other recorded

instances or recipes in the literature to support the claim.


 From another posting---  Vanilla


OED lists this as the earliest quotation

1662 H. Stubbe  Indian Nectar ii. 11

They added..the Vaynillas [to the chocolate] for the like ends, and to

strengthen the brain.

[No one on this list mentioned some of the more unusual aspects about 
the naming   of the plant. SCA-Cooks would have leaped upon and spent 
days on the fact that   the name is connected to the word vaina (:-L. va 
gi na  vagina) meaning 'sheath'

.    Mark Morton's book Cupboard Love goes into the background of the 
word for those interested.]


Anyway the date of 1662 would go along with C. Anne Wilson's comment in 
Food and Drink in Britain that it came into use in England with the 
preparation of chocolate as a drink. Through EEBO I looked at the 1662 
copy of Henry Stubbe's The Indian nectar, or, A discourse concerning 
chocolata the nature of cacao-nut and the other ingredients of that 
composition is examined and stated according   to the judgment and 
experience of the Indian and Spanish writers. It's the Harvard copy of 
180 plus pages that is available online.
This does have recipes in English for making the drink using vanilla as 
an ingredient. Stubbe cites several recipes including one recipe as that 
being used by Antonio Colmenero de Ledefina which includes vanilla. One 
thing that is valuable about this discourse is that he describes and 
discusses all the ingredients that go into making the drink.


On page 52 he writes:

"The next ingredient of Chocolate is Tlilxochitl (or as some write   it 
Tlixochil) or, as the Spaniards call it, banillas olorofas, or 
Vaynillas=85. their smell is admirable, they which have parallei'd it 
with Ambergrise, Musk,   or Balsame, failed in their Character for it 
hath a peculiar mildness, and delicacy in it, not to be found in those 
other." Stubbe goes on to fully describe the plant, the pod, and the 
seeds saying that "Whosoever shall try these Vaynillas by the strength 
and pentratingness of their smell, and perhaps by the vigour of their 
effects, performing what nothing of European, or East-Indy growth, of a 
less Degree in heat and dryness, then the third, doth; will rank them 
with those of that sort but here who shall consult his   Senses, and 
observe the mild delicacy in these American Products, and particularly   
in the Vaynillas, which is inconsistent with so much heat, and dryness 
and shall   consider, that his tongue feels nothing parallel to what 
happens upon the tasting of a grain of Chili, or red Pepper (which yet 
is placed as hot in the third degree) he will by many degrees separate 
and distinguish the former from the latter=85." He concludes, "for to 
use Cloves instead of Vainillas is a ridiculous mockage, and hurtful to 
several complexions in Chocolota."


Another earlier work that mentions vanilla is A Curious Treatise of the 
Nature   and Quality of Chocolate. It is given as being written in 
Spanish by Antonio   Colmenero and put into English by Diego de 
Vades-forte. It was published in English in 1640. It too lists recipes 
for the drink. Listed among the other ingredients that go into "this 
confection" is "another which they call Vinecaxtli, which in the Spanish 
they call Orejuelas, which sweet smelling Flowers, Aromaticall and hot." 
Page 14

This answers the question: can we find recipes in English from before 
1650? Well, yes we can. I would also point out that by 1683 recipes 
featuring chocolate with vanilla are being recorded in household 
manuscripts. See Brears' The Gentlewoman's Kitchen for examples. Do not 
be fooled however by the infamous "chocolate cr=E8me" featured in 
Fettiplace. It does not date from 1604.

There are recipes for chocolate that use vanilla published in France by 
M St. Disdier in 1692.

See Sophie and Michael Coe's The True History of Chocolate. pp.162-164. 
She mentions Hernandez's account of an

Aztec recipe for chocolate that inflames the venereal appetites on pages 
90-94. It also

includes mention of vanilla.


One really weird place that vanilla can be found in a 17th century 
recipe for   something other than a drink involving chocolate is in a 
book of ices. Today   it seems second nature to think about vanilla ice 
cream, but in the 17th century?  Actually yes!!! Elizabeth David notes 
that she owned a copy of an Italian work (undated but definitely 17th 
century) entitled Brieve e Nuova Modo da Farsi ogni sorte di Sorbette 
con facilta. In Harvest of the Cold Months, David writes on page 150: 
"An unexpected one, given the period, is vanilla, which evidently came 
early to Naples via its Spanish overloads and their colony of Peru. A 
vanilla ice in those days was not custard based but simply an infusion 
of 1 large bean pulverized with sugar and immersed in 10 goblets of 
boiling water."


Should anyone want to pursue the topic, there are some books that might 
be sought out.

   Une orchid=E9e qu'on appela Vanille : description v=E9ritable de 
l'histoire,   des tribulations & vertus d'une plante aromatique, 
1535-1998 by Nicolas Bouvier.1998.   This is a French publication 
of  119 pages. Gen=E8ve : Editions Metropolis, ISBN: 2883400601 .

 14 libraries in the world are listed as owning it as according to OCLC. 
With only the University of Chicago having it in the Midrealm.


Even rarer are these books-

Vanilla; its botany, history, cultivation and economic import

  by Donovan S. Correll.  New York : Society for Economic Botany, 1953


The Culture History of Mexican Vanilla by Henry Bruman which was

published in 1948.


Johnnae llyn Lewis    Johnna Holloway

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