Vanilla poitaei, Maricao, Puerto Rico

Vanilla doesn’t come to mind when you think of Puerto Rico. Yet the history of vanilla is intricately tied to the history of the island.

Mexico’s Totonac are the first known cultivators of vanilla. When the Totonac were conquered by the Aztecs, they gifted vanilla to the Aztec kings in the same way gold and maize were gifted by other tribes.