Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert
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How and why people eat dessert becomes more apparent after reading this book, and for anyone interested in the subject, this text is an in depth, multifaceted approach to the arena of sweets and pastry treats.
Overall it was an effective book, and an enjoyable read even with its very in depth and thick descriptions of desserts. Some of the wording was slightly excessive, but this is merely a product of Krondl's writing style. To judge a person's affinity for desserts is a difficult thing to do, so I will err on the side of caution and say that while it was a compelling read, certain sections could have been written more succinctly and with less embellishment.
Of course, if the text were edited then the meaning would be changed, and thus the nature and essence of the book. In the introduction he fails to fully look at the meanings behind why people in the west have specific affinity towards certain desserts. There has been some research which suggests women indulge in foods that don't remind them of cooking and making food for others.
There are some areas where the book could use some tweaking. On pages 13 and 81, Krondl employs the usage of the word immemorial. This to me is a tad overzealous.
To state that humans have been harvesting honey since time immemorial seems like he is pandering to people who romanticize history. No doubt that honey has been used for a long time, but specifics would have been a welcome addition. Less embellishment in cases like this would have created a stronger overall text. I do take issue with how he chose to word a sentence on pages 16 and If a couple of skilled editors were to scour this book, a more concise and readable version could probably be produced.
Even with the critiques, I think I am jealous of the author. He was able to travel around the world and gather interesting information on a fascinating subject. While much of the research was academic in nature, a large portion of the book was devoted to the taste and the ingredients of the desserts.
It was an overload of deliciousness, one that I am sure Krondl thoroughly enjoyed. There was an impeccable attention to detail, and it made reading it all the more enjoyable, even if it was a bit much at times. Bibliography Krondl, M. Jean-Claude Izzo. Joanne Dryansky. One Souffle at a Time. Anne Willan. Evelyne Bloch-Dano.
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From Hardtack to Homefries. Barbara Haber. Eating Eternity. Steal the Menu. Raymond Sokolov. Michael Krondl in Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert shows how sweets have been a part of our diet since ancient times. Krondl portrays six countries or regions in this narrative. Desserts first started out as a treat for the wealthy but have evolved for the masses.
A sweet can be a concoction of sugar, eggs, and milk; a fruit pie; a layered cake; or any other confection that completes a meal. Not surprisingly, desserts have developed along with the cultivation and use of sugar around the world. Ancient civilizations offered confections to their gods seeking favor. These most likely were of bread-like consistency made with honey and dates.
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Other religious traditions continue to incorporate sweets into their observances. Hindus offer them to their gods. Muslims make them part of Ramadan feasting. For Christians, no Christmas or Easter would be complete without sweets. Weddings and other special occasions also require something sweet. Some desserts become associated with a particular region. Baklava is claimed by Turkey, although other countries make it as well.
Austria is known for its tortes. European aristocracy has long been known for lavish meals and sumptuous desserts. The United States expanded on the popularity of puddings in England and evolved them into custard pies. One American invention is the pecan pie, which uses the nuts that were readily available to early settlers. Pastry chefs had to study and work with pastries for years before they could work on their own.