Reunion Island (Ile de La Réunion) and Vanilla

Reunion Island is an actively volcanic island, which has a fascinating history. When first discovered there was very little animal life and had never been inhabited...while the origins of vanilla are Central and South American, prior attempts to grow the beans in Europe always failed. The natural pollinators were a special species of bees that didn't live in Europe, but this was not known at the time. A slave, a young boy by the name of Edmund Albias, created the hand pollination method and completely transformed the vanilla industry.

Saffron History and Producers in SW France

You might wonder how to tell the good saffron from the bad safflower, why some threads costing three times as much as other 'saffron'. Well, as with many expensive food items, besides the quality, you also have to question the authenticity. It takes at least 100,000-200,000 threads of saffron to make a kilo, which sells for anywhere from 3,000-6,000 EURO. It's the most expensive spice in the world...During the pandemic of bubonic plague a war ensued called the 'Saffron War', it was so valued as a cure for the suffering that stocks in Europe were depleted and more was ordered from the East.

Adventures in Truffle Farming – Black Perigord

Truffle Farming came up the other day when a group of us were talking about finding truffle products locally. A friend, Nola D’Enis (culinary guide and writer), was mentioning a local truffle tree farm (truffiere) not to far from us that she had written about it a few years ago called Agri-Truffe. So, I paid them a visit. I had been writing about truffles in Dordogne (the epicenter for France) and decided to go a different route, what if you want to start your own truffle farm? Here are the experiences of three different people who started truffle farms - Alain Fabregues in Australia, Casey Yangeolva in Bularia, and Loic Luzinier in France.

Traveling with Kids in Aquitaine

There are unlimited amounts of things to do with children in this area, from beaches to parks and museums. It's a very family friendly area, with lots of great camping grounds in all price ranges (the French version of a holiday home/camping/vacation park). Most larger French towns have a beautiful old carousel which kids adore, good parks and public pools.

Organic, Local or Seasonal?

The produce stand can be a challenge in supermarkets, everything is available nearly all of the time...and it maybe even says 'organic', which is a great idea. In France, if you are buying in your local market you'll find the best selection of local and seasonal produce but it may not be organic. So what is better for you? Which is better for the environment?

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