I could get a vanilla bean at one of the grocery stores a stone’s throw away. I know exactly which aisle, no matter the store: glass bottles of spice at one end, technicolor H A P P Y B I R T H D A Y candles at the other. There’s no aisle that dares spell party like this one, the story of a celebration told in dry rub and cake mix, ending with the sprinkles. I could get a vanilla bean here, easy. In and out. Nevertheless, I head across town: It’s always a good day for the spice shop.