OK folks, I realize that this is totally unimportant, given the state of the country and all of the obvious evil and suffering in the world, but I’m having a hard time dealing with much of that this morning so I was thinking of other things…
My first cup of coffee is almost always just perfect, since I grind my own beans fresh, but since I’m frugal (yes, “scotch”), I make two cups at a time. The second cup tends to be old and cold after four hours, so I reheat it in the microwave. It has a funny taste black, so I add a little vanilla flavoring sometimes along with some half and half. But it isn’t very satisfying these days.
What happened to the flavor of vanilla? I remember clearly the wonderful sweet, wholesome fragrance each time the bottle was opened in my mother’s kitchen. The taste was sweet and clean, exotically floral even, a real comfort flavor. I remember the same smell and taste as I baked and cooked for my little family in the early years.
I can’t remember when it changed….
Now there is little to indicate that “vanilla” is at all related to that ghostly memory. I find myself using less and less of it as the years go by. I’ve bought every kind imaginable, from the cheapest to the most expensive. I’ve purchased pure vanilla extract in a dozen forms, and even tried raw, whole vanilla bean.
Some time ago I realized that even commercial products that are supposedly “vanilla” flavored don’t taste like real vanilla now. They are sweet, probably much sweeter with sugar than they ever were, but the best of the “sweet” isn’t the vanilla flavor anymore. “Vanilla” cookies taste like sugared lard and cardboard. I don’t buy them, but stupidly tried one at the library open house last month.
None of it smells or tastes anything like I remember. So, is it the vanilla that has changed, or my perception of it? Oranges still taste like oranges, and even the imitation does a pretty good job of tasting like oranges. Same for coconut, chocolate and everything else I can think of. Taste imitation vanilla flavor, as well as those with real vanilla extract included, and even the pure vanilla extract for yourself… do they all taste more or less like motor oil smells to you?
At least the question might distract you a few moments from the blood and circus in NYC or France…