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