Defining vanilla and French vanilla.

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Q. Vanilla versus French vanilla. Explain the difference, please!

A. Vanilla bean varieties are often named for where they’re grown, like Madagascar, Tahiti and Mexico. That’s not the case with French vanilla. The name refers not to a vanilla variety but to the classic French way of making ice cream using an egg-custard base.

Craig Nielsen, CEO of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, said the eggs give French vanilla a “richer, deeper note” than what’s found in plain vanilla.

Regular vanilla ice cream made without eggs is called Philadelphia-style according to David Lebovitz, a Paris-based baker, chef and blogger.

French vanilla, of course, is both a taste and a scent that transcends ice cream.

Here’s how it’s defined by Mauricio Poulsen, director of creation and application flavors for International Flavors & Fragrances Inc.: “Today, in sensory terms, when we refer to French vanilla, it is when the vanilla flavor is caramelized, custard-like, cooked, egg yolk-like, slightly floral.”