Vanilla is also referred to as the "queen of spices". It belongs to the orchid genus and is the world's second most expensive spice, after saffron. Vanilla was used back in the times of the Aztecs, as well as in royal houses in the 17th century, to flavour drinking chocolate. The vanilla fruit is actually the seed case of the plant (often referred to as a pod). There are some 110 varieties worldwide.
The most important sort of vanilla pod is the vanilla orchid, which is originally from Mexico und Central America. Today it has its origin in Madagaskar, Réunion, formerly known as Île Bourbon and therefore it got the name Bourbon vanilla.