Vanilla is the fascinating, kaleidoscopic story of one of the world's most exotic and sensual plants and how it transformed history. From the Aztec Indians to Martha Stewart, vanilla has been synonymous with sweetening foods. Yet it's also in chili, perfume, paint, desserts, car tires, and soda. In Tim Ecott's Vanilla, learn the fascinating history of the world's most sought-after flavoring. The story of vanilla is a botanical mystery, a plant that traveled the world but would not bear fruit outside Mexico until a twelve-year-old African slave on an island figured out how to cultivate it. Now endangered in the wild and the world's most labor-intensive agricultural crop, vanilla is more expensive to procure today than at any time in its history. Tim Ecott follows its journey from Mexico to Madagascar and back to America, meeting the farmers, the brokers, and the ice-cream makers who make vanilla a multimillion-dollar business. In the tradition of books like Tobacco, Tim Ecott's Vanilla is a whimsical journey that chronicles the incredible power of one velvety brown, long, and slender bean.