Craving for a Sweet Journey

Our happiness begins with something sweet. Sweets are linked to our daily happiness, positive memories and life events. We associate them with joy, comfort, love, friendship and family. They are also our way of coping with stress or even worse. Sweet or sweetness becomes part of our life.

So the question arises why we crave for sweet or sweet treats in different moods? The answer is scientific; when we eat something sweet our blood secretes chemicals known as opoids, which producs a feeling of pleasure inside our brain. Once our brain recognizes this feeling, our body demands to feel that pleasure again and again thus causing cravings. We are aware of fact that this craving is bad for our health (if we indulge in far too many) but many of us  can’t resist sinful sweet treats!

Let us talk about dessert without which, (in my opinion) our food is incomplete. In simple words dessert is a course that concludes our meals. This course usually consists of sweet food such as confection dishes or fruit, and possibly a beverage. In ancient civilizations people used fruits or nuts rolled into candied honey to conclude their meals. People began to enjoy desserts when sugar came into existence. At that time, desserts were reserved for the wealthy at celebrations, as sugar was considered quite expensive.

Desserts have increased in popularity over the years due to the evolution of technology and culinary experimentation. Also the Industrial Revolution in Europe and later America caused desserts to be mass-produced, processed, preserved, canned and packaged. However even today in many cuisines there is no sweet course or dessert, rather, fresh fruit, tea or coffee constitute the end of main course.

One reason people go for the dessert is that, after completing the main course, we want to try a new flavour. The flavour that looks good, smells good and excites and satisfies us, has a sweet appeal. In simple words desserts complete our ‘boring’ main course.

Moving further, the main culprit behind the sweet journey is sugar. Before sugar came into existence, people ate honey and dates and used them for sweetening their food. Sugar was first extracted from the sugarcane and probably the first domestication of sugarcane was done by the indigenous people of New Guinea. Knowledge of sugarcane moved across Southeast Asia, Southern China and India.

It was India that discovered the process of crystallising sugarcane juice into sugar  and organized sugar production for the first time. This was done during the Gupta dynasty around 350 AD. Discovery of sugar led India into profitable trade around surrounding countries and knowledge about sugar production spread  simultaneously. Middle East and China were the one who quickly grasped the knowledge about production and adopted sugar into their cuisine and culture. In Middle East Muslim chemists managed to improve its manufacturing process substantially. During the age of Arab Agricultural Revolution, people there adopted sugar into their cuisine, making with it incredible sweet products that were loved by everyone who came in contact with them. This way sugar became a staple of cooking and desserts.

With the widespread availability of refined sugar and flour, the dessert course reached its zenith in the banquets of the European courts of the 18th and 19th centuries and that’s how it reached to us. Sugar, in a way through a long journey conquered our hearts, culture, feast and festivals, cuisine, food and palate.

Author ———————

Subia Fakhra  is a student of CEMS 3rd Year, PatnaWomen’s College. She likes to write on food and culture.