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Sugar and Sweets – Review and Giveaway #61

Sugar and Sweets

Book Reviews | 11th July 2015 | By

With my sweet tooth and lifelong addiction to sugar, I was fascinated to find a whole encyclopaedia has been devoted to the story of the human predilection for sweet food – ah, it’s not just me then. The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, edited by Darra Goldstein, has just been published and happily a copy landed on my desk.

As with all good encyclopaedias, it is a fascinating collection of facts, stories and ideas that can be dipped into at will as well as being used as a reference tool. With nearly 600 entries, 265 contributing experts, 160 images and two full-colour inserts, Dara has fashioned a veritable treasure trove. My only reservation was that the images were all in black and white, apart from the colour inserts obviously, which makes the book seem a little old fashioned. History, politics, language, religion, art, science and of course food are all covered and demonstrate how sugar has been an integral part of human development and civilisation.

Appendices at the back are a nice touch, with entries for films and songs that have been influenced by sweets: from Julie and Julia to Like Water for Chocolate and from Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino to Jelly Roll Blues by Jelly Roll Morton. Two more appendices list pastry shops from around the world and confectionary museums. Who knew there was a museum specialising in gelato or one on Thai desserts? Running through the list of contributors, I realised I wasn’t nearly as “up”on the subject as I’d imagined. A few names like Rose Levy Beranbaum, Ivan Day, Trine Hahnemann and Maricel E Presilla, jumped out at me, but most were unfamiliar.

Sugar and Sweets Excerpt

Some entries, such as the one for stevia are quite short, others such as children’s literature span several pages. I learnt that wagashi means Japanese confectionery and that mochi and dumplings have been made in Japan since the prehistoric era. I was surprised to find that Marshmallow Fluff, which I only heard about a couple of years ago has been made in Massachusetts since 1920. Our very British pudding comes from the French boudin which originally meant sausage and referred to blood pudding. Nearing the end of the book, I was interested to see the entry for xylitol states that not only is this sugar substitute suitable for diabetics, but it’s also good for dental health. Both CT and I use it as a mouthwash for this very reason.

Not all the subjects covered are “sweet”, there are entries on dental caries, diabetes and the despicable horrors of slavery in the sugar plantations. It was Europe’s growing demand for sugar in the Seventeenth Century that kickstarted the international African slave-trade. Oh, our western civilisation has so much to be proud of.

I was pleased, if not surprised, to see that chocolate gets more than just a mention. There are entries for single origin, cacao, chocolate pots and cups as well as the expected pre and post Columbian history. Although I have read many histories of chocolate in my time, it hadn’t quite sunk in that the Americas had been producing chocolate for over 2,500 years before it was “discovered” by the West in the Sixteenth Century. Many of the brands have their own entries such as Cadbury, Lindt, NestlΓ©, Mars and Hershey. 

Published by Oxford University Press and retailing at Β£40, this hardback book is a serious and thorough exploration of the subject of sugar and sweets and would make a valuable edition to anyone’s bookshelf. I can see it’s going to keep me informed and entertained for years to come.

Giveaway

Oxford University Press has kindly agreed to give one Tin and Thyme reader a copy of The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets. To be in with a chance of winning, please fill in the Gleam widget below. You will need to leave a comment on this post, answering the question, which then gives you additional chances to enter if you so wish. Gleam will pick a winner at random from the entries received. If you are commenting anonymously, please give me some way of identifying you as I will be verifying the validity of entries. Any automated entries will be disqualified. This giveaway is only open to those with a UK postal address. Winners will need to respond within 7 days of being contacted. Failure to do this may result in another winner being picked.  

 Prizes are offered and provided by Oxford University Press and Tin and Thyme accepts no responsibility for the acts or defaults of said third party. Tin and Thyme reserves the right to cancel or amend the giveaway and these terms and conditions without notice.
 
Closing date is Tuesday 11 August 2015
 
Do take a look at my giveaway page to see if there is anything else you would like to enter.
 

Sugar and Sweets

Comments

  1. Leave a Reply

    suelle
    11th July 2015

    I would like to see an impartial comparison of sugar and alternative natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup. As calorie content is similar, what advantages, if any do the alternatives have?

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      11th July 2015

      Now that, Suelle, would be fantastic. There are sections for all of these things, but no single comparison entry.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      11th July 2015

      It’s the sort of book that you’d want kept by your bedside permanently as there is so much to dip in and out of, at least I reckon that’s where my copy will be taking up residence.

  2. Leave a Reply

    pete c
    11th July 2015

    would like to see any entry that includes coconut or rhubarb within their ingredients

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      11th July 2015

      Well you have half your wish Pete. Coconut is there but it seems rhubarb has no sweetness to warrant an entry.

  3. Leave a Reply

    Maxine G
    11th July 2015

    I’d like to see a section on natural fruit sugars

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      11th July 2015

      It doesn’t have a section on natural fruit sugars per se Maxine, but they all have their own individual entries.

  4. Leave a Reply

    Darrell
    11th July 2015

    I’d like to see a section on how some sweets fall in and out of fashion through the decades, eg gobstoppers, butterscotch, humbugs from the 50s, sweet tobacco and sweet cigarettes from the 60s, space dust in the 70s, etc Could be interesting reading :o)

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      11th July 2015

      Most of them get a mention somewhere in the book Darrell, but I suspect not all together as you describe.

  5. Leave a Reply

    Sara JaneG
    11th July 2015

    Some lovely sugared almonds in lots of different colours, perfect little pick me ups

  6. Leave a Reply

    Kate | The Veg Space
    11th July 2015

    What a beautiful book cover! Sounds fascinating. Would most like to see anything about caramel which I absolutely love!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      11th July 2015

      It’s a fabulous book Kate AND their is an entry for caramel πŸ™‚

  7. Leave a Reply

    Iain
    11th July 2015

    This book looks like it would great read on its own!

  8. Leave a Reply

    Janice
    11th July 2015

    oh my goodness how off putting reading about diabetes and dental caries arrrrgh. Doubt if it will put me off the sweet stuff now though. πŸ˜‰

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      12th July 2015

      No, it’s not managed to put me off yet Janice. The joy of this type of book, is that you read the bits you want to πŸ™‚

  9. Leave a Reply

    Miss Tracy Hanson
    11th July 2015

    Would like to see alternatives to sugar that’s natural and good for food allergies too. πŸ™‚ Even better would be “diabetic” friendly as Dad seems to be missing out on lovely treats because he doesn’t want to be ill.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      12th July 2015

      There are lots of sugar alternatives listed Tracy with plenty of information about them.

  10. Leave a Reply

    olivia a.
    11th July 2015

    Wow what a lovely book, would like to have it in my collection!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      12th July 2015

      It’s a fabulous book Olivia, so much better than I was originally expecting.

  11. Leave a Reply

    Tracy K Nixon
    12th July 2015

    I love these sorts of books that you can just dip into and you learn something new almost everytime! I would love to see an analysis of why sweets are so appealing to us from such a very young age! I remember getting so excited about picking up at 10p tuck shop bag on the way to school and I loved watching Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and reading Hansel an Gretel because I love the thought of a witches house being made of gingerbread and cake! The exciting thought of swimming in a pool of hot chocolate is still in my head!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      12th July 2015

      Ah, now you’ve got me dreaming about a pool of chocolate Tracy – what a thought!

  12. Leave a Reply

    leanne weir
    12th July 2015

    i think i would like some assistance on the different sugars out there and their interchangeability in recipes

  13. Leave a Reply

    Simon C
    12th July 2015

    I would like to see an entry about the various calorie-free sweeteners – saccharine, aspartamine, stevia, etc. With some background on their history, their advantages and disadvantages, and how they differ from each other and from sugar.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      12th July 2015

      They each get their own entry Simon, but I don’t think there is a comparison between them and that would be useful.

  14. Leave a Reply

    Penni
    12th July 2015

    Is there anything about why some flavours are more likely to bring a strong reaction from people? (I’m thinking liquorice, which people tend to love or hate.)

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      12th July 2015

      There is certainly a section on liquorice, but yes your suggestion is a good one Penni.

  15. Leave a Reply

    Ruth Harwood
    12th July 2015

    Some interesting myth-busters might be nice

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      12th July 2015

      Ah yes, I like that idea Ruth. I’m sure if you read it all, you’d find plenty, but it might be nice to have a section on it.

  16. Leave a Reply

    Sarah Cooper
    12th July 2015

    I would love a section on nostalgic sweets.

  17. Leave a Reply

    Sarah-Jane Laycock
    12th July 2015

    I would love to see a list of all the exclusive sweet shops and chocolatiers with links to their website for both browsing and education purposes you understand! x

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      12th July 2015

      Well there is a list of high end pastry shops from around the world Sarah, so you’ve sort of got your wish.

  18. Leave a Reply

    Paula Readings
    12th July 2015

    It must be easy to follow & a ‘If it looks like this, then this has gone wrong section!’

  19. Leave a Reply

    Sarah Griffiths
    12th July 2015

    Tips on how to fix things when they go a bit skewy!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      12th July 2015

      Haha yes CC, it’s definitely for the sweet toothed amongst us, although I reckon most people would get something out of it.

  20. Leave a Reply

    Fiona @ London-Unattached
    12th July 2015

    What a beautiful cover! I do like this kind of food book – I remember Larousse from when I was about eight! More inspiring than a recipe book sometimes!

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      13th July 2015

      Yes Fiona, very like Larousse. There is so much information, but as it all comes in bite size bits, it’s easy to get your head around – or is that just me?

  21. Leave a Reply

    Judith Allen
    13th July 2015

    I would look up to see if tablet is in, and see if it I agree with it all. Love my gran’s tablet. Mind you, she’s 99 now, so doesn’t haven the same energy for cooking.

  22. Leave a Reply

    Lucy
    13th July 2015

    Ooh it looks very interesting! You say science is covered in it: I’d love to see a section explaining the science behind how some of the best sweet things are made. For example, why are some processes, like fudge-making and tempering chocolate, so sensitive to just the right temperature?

  23. Leave a Reply

    Kath
    14th July 2015

    This looks like a fascinating read Choc. I love books like this, that you can just dip in and out of and learn something new every time.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      14th July 2015

      It’s just that sort of book Kath – I keep having to rest it off CT!

  24. Leave a Reply

    Kathleen Bywaters
    14th July 2015

    coconut ice, I loved having that when I was growing up!

  25. Leave a Reply

    Janie
    15th July 2015

    What a fascinating read! I’m not going to enter as I have recently culled my cookbooks bookcase (yes, I had an entire floor to ceiling bookcase for them all!), but it’s a lovely giveaway that I shall go and share πŸ™‚
    Janie x

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      15th July 2015

      Goodness Janie. I hope you’ve culled it to make room for more. But I know what you mean, most of mine are piled up on the floor as I’ve nowhere to put them. This one is worth making the room for though as it’s not actually a cookbook.

  26. Leave a Reply

    Megan Kinsey
    16th July 2015

    I’d like to see some tips on what you can substitute for sugar in certain recipes without losing taste or consistency

  27. Leave a Reply

    Judith Allen
    16th July 2015

    (thought I’d posted already, but can’t see it) I love tablet, so I wonder if tablet has its own entry? Or is it mentioned in fudge maybe? My Gran (now 99) made great tablet.

  28. Leave a Reply

    Mark Palmer
    18th July 2015

    I would love to see how fancy pastry like puff and choux were invented

  29. Leave a Reply

    Ashleigh Allan
    23rd July 2015

    I would like to see one on retro sweets!

  30. Leave a Reply

    Felicity Smith
    23rd July 2015

    This looks like a fabulous Christmas gift. It would cheer up even the saddest of winter days. Unfortunately I think I would want to keep it and would have to buy another :):)

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      23rd July 2015

      I think you’re right Felicity, it would be a hard book to give away.

  31. Leave a Reply

    laura stewart
    30th July 2015

    i’d like to see a pastry section xx

  32. Leave a Reply

    Emma Ellams
    30th July 2015

    Crumbles and cheesecakes, because they are both delicious for my sweet tooth!

  33. Leave a Reply

    Rich Tyler
    30th July 2015

    naughty chocolate cookies & brownies with yummy fruits inside

  34. Leave a Reply

    Rachel Butterworth
    31st July 2015

    Chocolate, any entry that mentions chocolate is perfect for me.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      1st August 2015

      In that case Rachel, there are many happy hours to be spent on my blog πŸ˜‰

  35. Leave a Reply

    Suzie Wilkins
    1st August 2015

    It looks like a wonderful book. I enjoy baking and it would help me to ‘get to know’ so many of my ingredients.

  36. Leave a Reply

    esme mccrubb
    2nd August 2015

    WHAT A FANTASTIC IDEA – I LOVE IT I DONT THINK IT NEEDS ANYTHING ADDED AT ALL

  37. Leave a Reply

    Solange
    3rd August 2015

    I would like to see one on retro sweets too

  38. Leave a Reply

    Jessica Powell
    3rd August 2015

    Awesome, I’d like to see change over time in our favourite desserts (have they become sweeter, other ingredient changes, etc).

  39. Leave a Reply

    Minnie15
    6th August 2015

    Anything with honey and lemon – my favourite combination plus the health benefits weigh out the feelings of guilt πŸ˜‰ x

  40. Leave a Reply

    Kirsty Woods
    7th August 2015

    I love cooking and would love this book, fingers crossed

  41. Leave a Reply

    ChrisM Baker
    7th August 2015

    Looks like a lovely book to drool over

  42. Leave a Reply

    teresa sheldon
    7th August 2015

    Looks a great book with great recipes some of my childhood favourites

  43. Leave a Reply

    Debbie Nichols
    7th August 2015

    I would like to see a section on advertisements for sweets through the years – to see how they enticed buyers and how it has changed

  44. Leave a Reply

    Laura Nice
    8th August 2015

    possibly some chocolate work on cakes πŸ™‚

  45. Leave a Reply

    Louise Lumsden
    8th August 2015

    I’d love read the whole book it looks so interesting &I’d really like to know more about stevia ,but you say the section on this is short which is slightly disappointing

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      8th August 2015

      It’s got about 4 paragraphs on stevia Louise, so there is some information, it’s just not several pages.

  46. Leave a Reply

    liz ferguson
    9th August 2015

    Some new, unusual creations involving everyday flavours like sweet baked beans xx

  47. Leave a Reply

    christine westlake
    9th August 2015

    easy quick sweets for children to make

  48. Leave a Reply

    Pam Francis Gregory
    9th August 2015

    How to make low calorie versions of my favourites (without losing the lovely taste of course!)

  49. Leave a Reply

    Karen Gray
    9th August 2015

    This looks like such a lovely book and just up my street. I don’t get a lot of time to read so I like to have a stack of books on my coffee table that I can dip in to when I have a sneaky five minutes. Entered with thanks.

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      10th August 2015

      Thanks Karen, it sounds as though this would fit your bill perfectly πŸ™‚

  50. Leave a Reply

    katie w
    9th August 2015

    nice tasty things with reduced or no sugar apart from natural sources such as fruit. I am trying to cut down my sugar intake.

  51. Leave a Reply

    MichelleD
    9th August 2015

    I’d like to find out about sweets and puddings that are local to me, I enjoy finding out about my local history (as well as eating cake)!

  52. Leave a Reply

    lynn neal
    10th August 2015

    This book looks like it is a wonderful collection of sweet information but I am sure it would make the tummy rumble just reading about all that deliciousness!

  53. Leave a Reply

    Barbara Handley
    10th August 2015

    I would like to see honest appraisals of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.

  54. Leave a Reply

    liatia
    10th August 2015

    I’m interested in how the sweets were discovered/invented!

  55. Leave a Reply

    Janet T
    10th August 2015

    I’d like to see the origins of jam and maybe chutney I don’t know if that counted they have alot of sugar in chutney.

  56. Leave a Reply

    Hannah Igoe
    10th August 2015

    Rhubarb and custard sweets would be fun and in the old sweetshop style!

  57. Leave a Reply

    Sarah A L
    10th August 2015

    I’d like to see info about sugar controversy and the studies for and against it’s consumption.

  58. Leave a Reply

    Sheri Darby
    10th August 2015

    Easy home made sweets

  59. Leave a Reply

    Diana
    10th August 2015

    Anything about caramel πŸ™‚

  60. Leave a Reply

    Emma
    10th August 2015

    A section on how to make healthy treats

  61. Leave a Reply

    elle
    10th August 2015

    coconut ice as it is my fave and looks so pretty

  62. Leave a Reply

    Victoria Prince
    11th August 2015

    Oh wow, a whole encyclopedia on sugar and sweets! I’d like to know a lot more about natural sugars in fruit and whether it is good/bad for us, how much we can eat and how it compares to other sugar sources

    • Leave a Reply

      Choclette
      11th August 2015

      Sadly, the book doesn’t quite go this far Victoria, but I’m with you on rather wishing it did.

  63. Leave a Reply

    victoria thurgood
    11th August 2015

    wow with 600 entries i really don’t know what else could be added but like cooking with fruit so any ideas would help

  64. Leave a Reply

    CAROL PATRICK
    11th August 2015

    I am fascinated to learn about the history of sweet treats offered at funfairs and seaside attractions, even before Victorian times. Candy floss, sticks of rock with names written inside, brandy snaps, toffee apples, & those pink & white nougat pieces. Everything so very sweet that children went crazy for.

  65. Leave a Reply

    Stephen Little
    11th August 2015

    DEFINITELY my sort of book!

  66. Leave a Reply

    LEE HARDY
    11th August 2015

    I would like to see anything with caramel.

  67. Leave a Reply

    Catherine Gregory
    11th August 2015

    Article on unrefined sugars like honey, maple syrup etc would be amazing

  68. Leave a Reply

    Heather Tinkler
    11th August 2015

    I would like to see an article that shows why sugar is good! Yes in small doses but how you can be adventurous with just a little!

  69. Leave a Reply

    Annette
    11th August 2015

    I love this! I make a lot of sweets but it would be great to have a better understanding of the contents.

  70. Leave a Reply

    Natalie Crossan
    11th August 2015

    This is definitely my kind of book and a wonderful giveaway too πŸ™‚

  71. Leave a Reply

    Vickie Jackson
    11th August 2015

    This sounds like my type of book… I’d love to read it all but I’d search first for fructose πŸ™‚

  72. Leave a Reply

    LYNN DIBB
    11th August 2015

    I have a sweet tooth,so perfect book for me.

  73. Leave a Reply

    Amy Jo McLellan
    11th August 2015

    I think my Mum would love this book. I think what she’d most like to see included is imagery of things like advertising of sugar and sweets across time.

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