The story of our love affair with vanilla - the world's most versatile flavouring.The locations read like the contents of an exotic holiday brochure: Tahiti, Madagascar, Reunion, Seychelles and the Gulf Coast of Mexico - all of them inextricably linked with the story of vanilla.Vanilla is a botanical mystery - a uniquely sensual plant who's secret was unlocked by an African slave in 1841. Aristocrats, apothecaries and modern day tycoons have all chased 'The Luscious Substance' - and the wealth it brings. Endangered in the wild, vanilla is now more valuable than at any time in history - a value that places it at the centre of a secretive multimillion dollar trade for which men are being murdered.Journalist Tim Ecott has sought out vanilla's rich history and in doing so has brought to life these faraway, fascinating, misunderstood places, unravelling the complex politics around vanilla growing, curing, and selling. Confirming the promise of his debut, Neutral Buoyancy, this is travel writing of the highest order.'Fascinating, appealing and forthright. Ecott has hit the jackpot' Independent
Tim Ecott's family swapped Northern Ireland for apartheid Johannesburg in the 1970s. But just six months after arriving the family was bankrupt and evicted from their home, and most of their possessions had been confiscated by the bailiffs. Whilst friends and relatives imagined they were living enviable lives in the sun, the reality was that the family was cast adrift. Forced to survive on their wits, they entered a twilight world where their true friends were prostitutes, thieves and renegades. At the heart of STEALING WATER is Tim's mother, who rises magnificently to the occasion keeping the family afloat with her shop, The Whatnot. Situated in an arcade running underneath the streets of Johannesburg it's the perfect place to keep below the radar of the police.