Pastry Chefs Forced to Get Creative as Vanilla Prices Soar

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As Hurricane Harvey barreled toward Texas, Rebecca Masson, owner of Houston’s Fluff Bake Bar, thought about what was most important to her; what she had to keep safe. She ran to her pantry, grabbed the last 10 quarts of vanilla she had, and sped to shelter. At a time when top vanilla producers are charging $600 to $750 per kilogram for vanilla beans, Masson’s stash of vanilla was nothing short of liquid gold. “I could not risk it being flooded or stolen,” she says. “To lose all my vanilla? That would be no joke.”

Bakers and ice cream makers across the country have been crushed by the price surge for vanilla, which spiked after a cyclone hit Madagascar, the world’s leading producer of vanilla, on March 7. The current $600 per kilogram price is up from around $100 in 2015, and near $500 per gallon for pure vanilla extract, which sold for $70 a gallon in 2015.

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Historic Hippie Cafes of the Village Still Nail Veggie Fare

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Beginning around 1970, nearly every campus had one: a vegetarian cafe catering to hippies, guys with long hair and handlebar mustaches and gals in tie-dyed dresses with lots of beads. Some operated in church basements, others in bookstores or student unions. They were the pop-ups of yesteryear.

The vegetarian fare provided a stark contrast to the burgers and pizza that students often ate. Steamed vegetables, black beans, nut loaves, leafy salads with bright orange dressing, as well as acre upon acre of brown rice, were presented on steam table serving lines.

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