Let's Go Special Pack

The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

ISBN : 9780199313396

Darra Goldstein; Sidney Mintz; Michael Krondl; Laura Mason; Geraldine Quinzio; Ursula Heinzelmann
920 ページ
187 x 260 mm
Oxford Companions
  • Most comprehensive reference work on the idea of the sweet ever published, with entries on all aspects of sweetness, including chemical, technical, social, cultural, and linguistic
  • Edited by Darra Goldstein, a widely respected scholar and the author of several award-winning culinary books
  • Preface by the legendary anthropologist Sidney Mintz, author of Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History
  • Four fascinating appendices, on sweets in cinema, the world's best pastry shops, sweet language in music, and museums dedicated to sweets

A sweet tooth is a powerful thing. Babies everywhere seem to smile when tasting sweetness for the first time, a trait inherited, perhaps, from our ancestors who foraged for sweet foods that were generally 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 impulse that prompts us to decorate elaborate wedding cakes, scoop ice cream into a cone, or drop sugar cubes into coffee. These are matters of culture and aesthetics, of history and society, and we might ask many other questions. Why do sweets feature so prominently in children's literature? When was sugar called a spice? And how did chocolate evolve from an ancient drink to a modern candy bar? 

The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets explores these questions and more through the collective knowledge of 265 expert contributors, from food historians to chemists, restaurateurs to cookbook writers, neuroscientists to pastry chefs. The Companion takes readers around the globe and throughout time, affording glimpses deep into the brain as well as stratospheric flights into the world of sugar-crafted fantasies. More than just a compendium of pastries, candies, ices, preserves, and confections, this reference work reveals how the human proclivity for sweet has brought richness to our language, our art, and, of course, our gastronomy. In nearly 600 entries, beginning with "à la mode" and ending with the Italian trifle known as "zuppa inglese," the Companion traces sugar's journey from a rare luxury to a ubiquitous commodity. In between, readers will learn about numerous sweeteners (as well-known as agave nectar and as obscure as castoreum, or beaver extract), the evolution of the dessert course, the production of chocolate, and the neurological, psychological, and cultural responses to sweetness. The Companion also delves into the darker side of sugar, from its ties to colonialism and slavery to its addictive qualities. 

Celebrating sugar while acknowledging its complex history, The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets is the definitive guide to one of humankind's greatest sources of pleasure. Like kids in a candy shop, fans of sugar (and aren't we all?) will enjoy perusing the wondrous variety to be found in this volume.


Preface (by famed anthropologist Sidney Mintz)
Introduction (by Editor-in-Chief Darra Goldstein)
Topical Outline of Entries
The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets
Appendix: Films
Appendix: Museums
Appendix: Pastry Shops
Appendix: Songs
Directory of Contributors


Editor-in-chief: Darra Goldstein, Willcox and Harriet Adsit Professor of Russian, Williams College, Foreword by Sidney Mintz, Research Professor (Emeritus), John Hopkins University, Editorial board member: Michael Krondl, Food Historian, Editorial board member: Eric Rath, Professor, History Department, University of Kansas, Editorial board member: Laura Mason, Food Historian, Editorial board member: Geraldine Quinzio, Food Historian, and Editorial board member: Ursula Heinzelmann, Food Historian

Darra Goldstein is the Willcox and Harriet Adsit Professor of Russian at Williams College, having earned her Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Stanford University. She combines her love of literature with a passion for food studies, a field she helped pioneer by founding Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, which has been called a culinary New Yorker for its incorporation of photography, poetry, and art alongside thoughtful articles on all aspects of the foods we eat. She serves as the Series Editor for California Studies in Food and Culture (UCAL Press) and the Food Editor for Russian Life magazine. Goldstein is also a prolific author who has written or edited thirteen books, including four award-winning cookbooks.


265 people wrote entries for The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, including food historians, neuroscientists, chemists, anthropologists, philosophers, art historians, cookbook writers, pastry chefs, and on. Contributors came from more than 20 countries around the world.

"a 900-page sugar bible" - Dagens Nyheter

"265 experts, including food historians, chemists, restaurateurs, cookbook writers and neuroscientists, explore the idea of the sweet from a multidisciplinary perspective. The Companion abounds with... curious theories and facts... Entertaining historical details sparkle." - Times Literary Supplement

"The Companion abounds with such curious theories and facts. Who knew, for example, that the familiar plastic flying toy known as the frisbee was named after the American bakery manager William Russell Frisbee, whose popular flat pies were sold in tin plates with his name imprinted in bold letter on the base? ... Such entertaining historical details sparkle in many of the entries." - Anna Katharina Schaffner, The Times Literary Supplement

"magnificent" - Literary Review, Jonathan Beckman

"A wealth of knowledgeable authors have contributed to this entertaining and informative compendium, which is illustrated with beautiful pictures" - Der Tagesspiegel

"A comprehensive reference work on the idea of the sweet, this is more than just a collection of sweets, it's an exploration into the human fondness for all things sweet and how it has shaped our language, art and cooking throughout history." - Fine Dining Lovers

"sheer brilliance!" - AGA magazine

"Happy hours can be spent browsing, leaping around, tasting or gorging. From convent sweets, to dental caries, to sexual innuendo, theres more than just gobstoppers. It's impressive stuff." - Petits Propos Culinaires

"Sweets have a special hold on our senses. Whether it's taffy or turnovers, sandesh or sherbet, maple sugar or macarons, our enjoyment of sweets is informed by traditions and memories. This encyclopedia explores sweet things globally and across time, from the honeycombs our ancestors gathered to the crackly nougatine of today's experimental chefs. But its greatest achievement is that, in over 900 intellectually nourishing pages, it never neglects the senses. Like the medieval subtleties that entertained royal diners with elaborate conceits, this book is playful, surprising, and always-captivating." - Heston Blumenthal