The Totonac tribe of pre-Columbian Mexico was the first to cultivate this alluring spice and the story that accompanies its origin tells of forbidden love. According to one legend, the Princess Xanat fell in love with a mortal, and when she and her lover attempted to run away, they were killed. The first vanilla orchid sprouted from the blood that flowed from the two lovers. When Spanish conquistadors introduced the spice to Europe, its intoxicating fragrance wafted across the land and today it remains a ubiquitous ingredient in everything from perfumes to desserts. The erotic effects of vanilla have been studied for years, with men showing a particularly strong sensual response. Not only does the smell of vanilla lower stress levels to get you in the mood for love, but it also evokes warmth and euphoria.

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