spices

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Vanilla has an undeserved reputation for being blah, as in plain vanilla, the flavor for people who consider chocolate too daring.

The truth is a vanilla bean is an exotic thing — the only edible fruit of the orchid family — and an essential ingredient in a host of everyday favorites as well as holiday treats, from Christmas cookies to Hanukkah sufganiyot (fried donuts) to coquito, Miami’s superior upgrade of egg nog.