The folks in the office here told me other colleagues from the states buy bottles of vanilla extract here. I learned that there are three areas that make the best vanilla, which includes Mexico! Even in the states, you have to pay attention when you buy vanilla extract because you want to make sure you pick PURE not artificial/imitation vanilla extract. In Mexico, some companies put courmarin in place of real vanilla extract. Coumarin is from the tonka bean, so it gives off the same aroma and taste as a vanilla bean except it’s dangerous! Coumarin is a blood thinner! Anyway, I did some research before buying some vanilla extract here. Here are my tips:
-Buy from a legitimate Mexican supermarket. The three largest supermarket chains in Mexico are Soriana Walmart, and HEB (HEB is a Texas based supermarket btw!).
-Make sure the vanilla extract says “extracto de vainilla” and doesn’t say imitation or artificial on it.
-Check the ingredients! real vanilla extract has 35% alcohol in it. the imitation stuff has 2%. Pure vanilla extract should have the following ingredients: corn syrup “jarabe de maiz”; caramel “caramelo”; color “color”; sugar “azúcar”; and most importantly vanilla bean extract “vaina de vainilla de frijol de extracto.”
-The price will correspond to the quality. For instance, imitation extract will cost you about 8.50 pesos whereas pure vanilla extract will cost you about 85 pesos! That’s a large discrepancy!
-The color of the extract should be amber
-The extract should look clear, not murky
-If you’re able to, then confirm with a local colleague!
Now that I have some real Mexican vanilla extract, it’s time for me to find some recipes that involve vanilla! I can’t wait to compare this vanilla extract to the brand I usually buy, McCormicks! 🙂
Taco count as of Day 10 – 29
Monday dinner – 2 tacos from Ricon Sonorense, a wealthy area of Monterrey. Their specialty is the Hass tacos. Basically a corn tortilla is cooked on its own on the griddle until it’s nice and hard. They put refried beans, cheese, and carne on the taco. Then you can add your own salsa to it. I decided to add some chopped onions, cilantro, salsa (chopped tomatoes) and spicy salsa. You eat it like a pizza. I liked how the taco was nice and crunchy, not like the hard taco shells you get in the states!
Tuesday lunch – 2 tacos from a popular chain called “El Papalote.” I got the shrimp tacos prepared “Santa Fe” style. This was a nice change of pace from the 20+ meat tacos I’ve had!