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Food Lovers Encyclopedia: V

Illustration by John Burgoyne

Vanilla Beans
[the hottest pod since the iPod Touch]
Vanilla beans are like wine: You (often) get what you pay for. But the affordable combo packs from locally based online importer Amadeus only enhance ice creams infused with beans from Tahiti and Indonesia. The shop adjacent to the Gourmandise School stocks just one variety (V. planifolia, from Papua New Guinea), but at $10 for about 24 fair-trade pods, you can still afford to sign up for that French pastry class.  

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