For those of you who are unaware, Vanilla extract used in baking is made by soaking vanilla beans in various liquors, such as rum or vodka. For that reason it is very difficult to find vanilla extract to buy in Middle Eastern countries as they don’t make it here (alcohol is forbidden in Islam) and it is not imported because there is not enough demand. In a year of living in Egypt, I have yet to find a bottle for sale. The substitute I found was called Vanillin, a sweet, granulated and poor substitute indeed. After much coaxing my Mom-in-law and Poppy sent me some for my birthday this year (my dad’s personal stash came from South America!). And what an upgrade it is.