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Culture & Religion

The Dessert Revolution

Food writer Adam Gopnik travels from the White House kitchen to the famed elBulli restaurant in Catalonia, Spain and finds that savory flavors are the new fad in desserts.

As both the anthropologist Sidney Mintz and the historian Jean-Louis Flandrin have documented, it was only recently that the instinct for devouring sweets met the availability of abundant sugar. In pre-Crusades medieval European diets, only honey and fruit and other “natural” sweeteners were available, and they were mostly used in savory dishes. For centuries, sugar was a spice as rare as myrrh and as precious as saffron: an expensive extra used to give food taste and color. Only in the Renaissance did sugar slowly, through the New World, become widely current.


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