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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Today In The Losers' Circle ...

I ran out at lunch today to buy napkins and plastic utensils for a birthday party at work later in the day ... Slyvia, who has spoken to me maybe three times in seven years, is turning 50. Anyway, I was heading down an aisle with my shopping basket when my peripheral vision caught a glimpse of something so shocking ... so horrible ... that I continued on about 15 feet before my brain processed the information and stopped me cold.

Then, like a panther, I reversed course and slinked back a few feet to confirm what I "thought" I saw. Son of a bitch ... there it was ... vanilla syrup! AAAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

I invented vanilla syrup about 10 years ago ... in my head. I was eating ice cream (big surprise)with a niece and a nephew and commented that I wish there was a vanilla version of "hot fudge" because I loved the warm and soothing taste of it. I had a bottle of real vanilla from Madagascar for baking, and several containers of powdered vanilla I found at an Amish market ... I go through that stuff like some people go through the cocaine it resembles. And I'd looked up recipes for simple vanilla syrup used in cocktails, but I wanted a thick, gooey rich vanilla syrup ... as long as it didn't look like spoiled milk or something "reproductive."

Vanilla, from the Spanish word vainilla which means "little pod," comes from a variety of orchids and it is incredible expensive and painstaking to cultivate the pods. Mexico is a great source of vanilla, but places like Madagascar, Reunion, and parts of Indonesia, the South Pacific, and South America ... thanks to the conquistador Hernan Cortes bringing the wonders of vanilla (and chocolate) to Europe from his Central American exploits ... also grow fantastic varieties.

"Why don't you invent it yourself," my niece had said with both simple innocence and strawberry ice cream all over her chin and shirt. I thought about that idea every few months, but never gave it any serious thought. Now I was beaten to the punch. Or was I?!

This stuff on the store shelf before me was called Torani Vanilla Syrup and it came in a pretty big bottle. I picked up one and was delighted to see that it sloshed and rippled in relative thinness ... it could never be the ice cream companion of my dreams. Then I also saw that it was beside margarita mixes and other "bartendery" things ... more for drinks and lattes than desserts. And it was pretty damn expensive ... not an attractive feature for thrifty Moms.
I still had a shot, but how do you shop for a test kitchen or a food technologist?
POINT OF RANT: Never discount an idea ... or an ice cream topping?

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