Tropical plants are the source of some the most exotic and sought-after foods and flavors in kitchens the world over. None the temperate world’s seasons would be the same without the flavors and smells of tropical plants that are hallmark of every season.
Without vanilla from Mexico, there would be no Spring vanilla ice cream, no pineapple, from South America, to lift your Summer spirit. When Fall hits, you’ll have to get by without allspice, nutmeg, and clove that go into your pumpkin pie. And what is winter wassailing without cinnamon from southeast Asia?
Admittedly the flavors I mention are suited to western tastes but one can find tastes equally dependent on tropical edibles in places around the temperate and tropical world. Asian cuisines bereft of ginger, Kaffir lime or lemon grass is plain meh. Mexican food with hibiscus, tamarind or achiote (Bixa orellana) is far less exciting. Leave out plantains from Caribbean cuisine and it lacks an essential source of carbohydrates. Recently, consumption of avocados has been a point of contention in political discourse. And finally, the world would grind to a halt without coffee.
The importance of foods such bannanas and spices such as pepper in the world economy can’t be overstated but there are some that are just as tasty that can’t be economically distributed the world over. Some foods such Jackfruit are only known in the western world through its flavor profile, in this case chewing gum. The polarizing appeal (or disgust) over Durian is only known where it can grow reliably. Slowly but surely new flavors are introduced to palates in the temperate world.
The foods and spices mentioned here are only a few grains of sand on a beach of tropical food stuffs. On these pages we offer a few tropical delights to try your hand at cultivating. Most of what we offer serves a dual purpose with ornamental value. If hand crafting and fermenting your own vanilla beans is too much for you, at least it’s an attractive orchid vine.