Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Must Ask . . . Chocolate or Vanilla?

I don't understand why so many "so called" chocolate lovers complain about the calories in chocolate, when all true chocoholics know that it is a vegetable. It comes from the cocoa bean. Beans are veggies. 'Nuff said. –Unknown

The world makes a little more sense again. Butter won by a landslide. And you Miracle Whip lovers out there? I'm just going to try to forget you exist.

Continuing in the same vein as Miracle Whip vs. Mayo and Butter vs. Margarine, today's question is about food too. This topic is what sparked the idea for the I Must Ask series, but I didn't know exactly how to do it until I started writing this post. Because what comes in both chocolate and vanilla? It sounds like a good question, but the overlap is pretty small and mainly in the dairy category with pudding and ice cream in all its variations coming to mind first. There are also chocolate and vanilla Oreos and chocolate or vanilla cake with chocolate or vanilla frosting. But the flavors kind of live in their own separate worlds which makes it difficult to choose between them. Still, let's see if I can make this work.

Let's start with the similarities. Both chocolate and vanilla come from Mexico and Central America and both are derived from plants. Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés is credited for introducing them both to Europe in the 1520's. Both are labor-intensive to produce. Vanilla is second in price only to saffron in the world of spices because the growing conditions must be just right to produce good vanilla. Chocolate in its raw form, the cocoa bean, requires several steps before it becomes the delicious treat it is. The beans must be fermented, dried and then separated before they can be processed into various forms of chocolate. Vanilla and chocolate are both considered aphrodisiacs. And they both produce other physical effects on their consumers. Vanilla has been shown to increase levels of catecholamines {including adrenaline}, which makes it mildly addictive. Its sweet, soothing, homey scent is used in aromatherapy to reduce stress, heighten mental clarity, improve circulation, clear respiratory airways and it even has a reputation for reducing fevers. Chocolate contains alkaloids, most notably theobromine, which increases the heart beat and dilates blood vessels resulting in lower blood pressure, and PEA, which is an anti-depressant.

And now the differences. Chocolate is the star of the show, the main attraction, the dominating flavor. It can stand alone. It is loved the world over and can be used in food in so many ways that it is impossible to ever get tired of it. Beyond the realm of the edible, did you know that there is a Chocolate Spa in Hershey, PA? You can actually soak in a chocolate milk bath or have a mud-and-chocolate wrap or a chocolate sugar scrub or a chocolate bean polish. I'm saving my pennies.

Vanilla plays the supporting role, enhancing the other flavors. Vanilla is considered the plain option. I couldn't find a fun quote about vanilla anywhere, nor could I find a spa devoted solely to vanilla. But I don't know if there is anything more versatile than a bowl of vanilla bean ice cream. It is fabulous by itself and it also lends itself to any flavor you want to add.

Now that I've presented my case, I must ask: which do you prefer? Chocolate or Vanilla? As for me, I like my vanilla bean ice cream with chocolate on top.

Quotes about Chocolate
More quotes about chocolate

5 comments:

Ann Marie said...

I love Chocolate Moo--lenium crunch when I can find it. Chocolate ice cream with lots of chocolate chunks and nuts and it is just yummy, yummy. They have the original all the time with the vanilla ice cream, but it isn't half as good as the CHOCOLATE one.

JazznJenna said...

Vanilla wins for me in any ice cream world, but chocolate wins in most all other worlds. Still, asking which is better between chocolate and vanilla is like asking which is better between apples and oranges...n'est pas?

Shay said...

Chocolate all the way baby!

Michelle said...

Chocolate is my favorite, but I like both. And I love, simply love the smell of vanilla.

Jill said...

I voted for Vanilla. I suppose I immediatly thought of ice cream. But the thing is, I don't really love plain chocolate. I need nuts or caramel or something to go with it. Plus, for ice cream mix-ins, I prefer my base to be vanilla.
My husband, however, would be on the next plane out there if he found out he honestly could have a chocolate soak.