The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets (Oxford Companions)

January 4, 2021
The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets (Oxford Companions)

Foreword by Sidney MintzA sweet tooth is a powerful thing. Babies everywhere seem tosmile when tasting sweetness for the first time, a trait inherited,perhaps, from our ancestors who foraged for sweet foods that weregenerally safer to eat than their bitter counterparts. But the"science of sweet" is only the beginning of a fascinating story,because it is not basic human need or simple biological impulsethat prompts us to decorate elaborate wedding cakes, scoop icecream into a cone, or drop sugar cubes into coffee. These arematters of culture and aesthetics, of history and society, and wemight ask many other questions. Why do sweets feature soprominently in children's literature? When was sugar called aspice? And how did chocolate evolve from an ancient drink to amodern candy bar?The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets explores thesequestions and more through the collective knowledge of 265 expertcontributors, from food historians to chemists, restaurateurs tocookbook writers, neuroscientists to pastry chefs. The Companiontakes readers around the globe and throughout time, affordingglimpses deep into the brain as well as stratospheric flights intothe world of sugar-crafted fantasies. More than just a compendiumof pastries, candies, ices, preserves, and confections, thisreference work reveals how the human proclivity for sweet hasbrought richness to our language, our art, and, of course, ourgastronomy. In nearly 600 entries, beginning with " la mode" andending with the Italian trifle known as "zuppa inglese," theCompanion traces sugar's journey from a rare luxury to a ubiquitouscommodity. In between, readers will learn about numerous sweeteners(as well-known as agave nectar and as obscure as castoreum, orbeaver extract), the evolution of the dessert course, theproduction of chocolate, and the neurological, psychological, andcultural responses to sweetness. The Companion also delves into thedarker side of sugar, from its ties to colonialism and slavery toits addictive qualities.Celebrating sugar while acknowledging its complex history,The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets is the definitiveguide to one of humankind's greatest sources of pleasure. Like kidsin a candy shop, fans of sugar (and aren't we all?) will enjoyperusing the wondrous variety to be found in this volume.