Visions of Sugarplums

The holiday season is in full swing again: the same familiar music, traditions, family gatherings, and sugary treats that signify good times and good living. While each of us may celebrate this time of year in a different fashion, there are similarities across race, region, and religion that just seem to fit in with the winter holidays.

We’ve pretty much always loved the flavor “sweet”. Culinary anthropologists have traced sugarcane to Indonesia, where it was domesticated at around 8000 BC, and its first recorded refining was in India around AD 350. The domesticated cane spread quickly throughout the far east, and like many spices from the area, trade routes brought sugar through northern Africa and the Arab Empire, where its production met the western world for the first time. Crusaders encountered “sweet salt” on their journeys, and, returning to Europe, the modern sweet tooth had found root in the entire Old World.

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