The History of Confectionery

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Have you ever imagined what it is like to live in a world without sweets? Emotional lack of control, sweating and anxiety. Well, mankind was not always in the habit of consuming sweets, let alone confectioning them. To know a little more about the origin of the confectionery, I will talk a little about its history.
Most sweets arose linked to celebrations, love stories, victories and so on, but we cannot compare the recipes before 1200-1300 AD to the sweets we know today. It was a long way, literally centuries of history, to reach the present day.
In the past, dishes mixed sweet and savory flavors, since there was no concept of dessert (How come? No wonder they were called “barbaric” peoples).
The first records regarding sweets date from the 1st century BC: the great Roman philosopher Cicero mentions having eaten in Sicily a “Tubus farinarius, dulcissimo, edulio ex lacte factus”, that is, delicious little dough tubes, very sweet, filled with milk, a description that immediately makes one of the most famous sweets in the world think, the Sicilian cannolo. It was common for recipes for creams and puddings, made by mixing eggs, milk, honey and black pepper, which were roasted or boiled until they were dense. There was traditional habit of caramelizing almonds and hazelnuts with honey, obtaining something similar to our kid’s foot, in addition to stuffing dried fruits with nuts for festivities. The sweet taste appeared more frequently in drinks, the most common of which was mead, which is still consumed in some regions today. Among the Etruscan and Germanic peoples, fruit wine was produced, obtained from the slight fermentation of various fruits. The best-known descendant of these drinks is cider, so don’t deserve it just because it’s not Champagne!
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I think it was clear that, until then, there was NO sugar in Europe. Sweetness came from fruit or honey; only in 900 AD did Europeans come into contact with the ingredient, which was imported as a spice from the Arab world, but had a very high price for most of the population.
From 1200 AD, amidst the habit of banquets, dessert was included on the menu, however, served before the main meal, as it was believed to open the stomach and soul of diners (the beginnings of Biotônico Fontoura!). The recipes were derived from Roman culinary traditions and with the Crusades came to have Arab influence.
Finally, in the 14th century, humanity takes a leap towards confectionery! With the maritime expansion and the various expeditions to the East, fundamental ingredients began to reach the courts: the cane sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, rice, nutmeg and cloves. With the discovery of America, sugar becomes more affordable and the practice of confectionery takes off! The sweet that will mark history appears: the Genoese cake (father of our well-known sponge cake), created by the Italian confectioner Giobatta Cabona. Through it, the fashion of fluffy, light and airy cakes starts, very different from those previously prepared, which in reality would be better classified as sweet breads. Guys, let’s agree: this is a historic landmark! After all, who doesn’t love a very fluffy cake?
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Because cane sugar is an imported ingredient, in 1747 it was discovered that the same sugar content was found in sugar beet as in sugar cane. In 1801 the first sugar beet extraction plant in the world was built (don’t try it at home, ok ?!). Such substitution allowed the professionals to leave the courts and open their own business. Immense amounts of recipes came up, and in Italy popped up ice cream (God heard our prayers!).
From the 19th century onwards, with the addition of beet sugar, “culture of the furnace” emerged throughout Europe: not only did artistic appearance count, but the quality and flavor of recipes. The “biscuit”, puff pastry, “petit fours”, buttery pasta, almond pasta and so many others were discovered, which were served as an accompaniment to the newest European fashion: coffee, tea and hot chocolate. “Cafés e Confeitarias” and the habit that is so common nowadays in coffee (Ulálá!) Appear.
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In the mid-1950s, there was an improvement in purchasing power and a recovery in the quality of life of the population, there was a considerable increase in commercial establishments driven by the demand for increasingly thin and elaborated products. And so, the confectionery is established as we know it today!
Who knew your brigadeiro would take centuries to get ready!
Live the taste of culture!
Per Giovanna Graziosi Casimiro
Born in São Paulo – SP, she moved to Santa Catarina in 2001 and has been studying Bachelor of Visual Arts at Universidade Federal de Santa Maria – RS for 4 years. He is dedicated to researching contemporary art history and art and technology. She is fascinated by confectionery, photography, fashion, history and travel! Along with his graduation project, he has been developing practical-theoretical research on confectionery and the origin of sweets.

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