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April 25, 2014
Vanilla pudding, pretty vanilla, right?
Vanilla pudding, or Crème Anglaise, if you want to sound fancy, can be as rich or simple as you wish.
Vanilla, a story in itself, is a flavoring derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily from the Mexican species, Flat-leaved Vanilla.
Seems that in 1836 botanist Charles François Antoine Morren was drinking coffee on his Veracruz patio and noticed black bees swarming around the vanilla flowers next to his table.
A few days later vanilla pods began to form.
This aha moment led to hand pollination and vanilla wound up in pudding, which, of course, has a history all its own.
Food historians generally agree that the first puddings, made by ancient cooks, were meat based.
Medieval puddings were hardy stuff bound by eggs.
Into this mix, came English chemist Alfred Bird who introduced custard powder to 19th century America as an alternative to egg thickeners.
Pudding became positively heroic for Conestoga wagon cooks who didn't have a ready access to a reliable supply of fresh eggs.
The West might not have been won without pudding.
Yes, it's that important.
In the hands of Clio Goodman, formerly a pastry chef at the vaunted Union Square Café, her Puddin' by Clio on St. Marks Place in NYC has raised pudding to its ultimate decadence.
I can vouch for a first, second, and third hand experience.
Her vanilla pudding, made from Madagascar vanilla beans, is worth a trip to the East Village in itself.
After all, nobody ever said that the, "The proof is in the ice cream."
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