I’ve been the lucky recipient of a huge bunch of vanilla beans quite recently. They’re of the Vanilla planifolia species from Madagascar, more commonly known as “Madagascar-Bourbon” vanilla. They were given to me neatly tied up in strings just like in this photo that I found on the internet.

I was astounded to read in Wikipedia that vanilla is the second most expensive spice after saffron due to the extensive labor required to grow the vanilla seed pods. Apparently, these Madagascar beauties retail at $60 per pound (!) at vanilla.com.

vanilla beans

In Malaysia, these vanilla beans are sold in the supermarkets at RM27.25 (USD8) for a small jar with 3 scrawny vanilla beans. Yes, they were pathetic scrawny little things, nowhere near as long or as big as the heady-scented magical black pods that I have back home.

Then a small light bulb lit up in my head. Why don’t I share my vanilla beans with you? I mean, it would be such a shame to put all that lovely vanilla to waste, considering that I’m just a weekend baker sort of person. There’s simply no way I can finish off all the vanilla beans that I have in my stash even if I baked every weekend for the whole of 2010 and made vanilla sugar for everyone in our neighbourhood.

So that’s just exactly what I’ll do! I’m giving away 10 vanilla bean pods each to the first 10 people who leave a comment answering this very simple question:

What would you like to see more of in this blog? More travel-related stories and photos? More stories about Malaysia — its sights, its food, its culture, its people? Or is it fine the way it is now — a hodge-podge of my ‘adventures’ with my 3 passions in life: travel, children and photography?

Then please tell me the city and country where you are from, just so everyone else will get to know to which corner of the world the vanilla beans will be shipped.

Easy-peasy, right? On your marks…get set…go! 😀

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P.S. And while we’re on the subject, please head on over to The Girl With A Curl’s blog to read a wonderful write-up that she has in her archive about vanilla entitled “The Real Thing“.

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