Book Description: The fascinating story of nature's most exotic and sensual plant and how it produces the world's most popular flavor. Traces the story of the vanilla plant and its secretive trade, from the golden cups of Aztec emperors to the ice-cream dishes of U.S. pres. The only orchid that produces an agriculturally valuable crop, vanilla can mask unpleasant tastes and smells, but also makes pleasant tastes stronger, smoother, and longer lasting. Vanilla finds its way into over half of all dessert products sold worldwide; the finest perfumes; well-known brands of rum and vodka; and even Coca-Cola & Pepsi. Growers have been forced to mount armed guard over their plants in the tropical jungle. ''A globe-trotting adventure that follows buccaneers, aristocrats, and gourmets.'' Illustrations.