Scientists tell us sugars are non essential foods and we know that even at their most modest, desserts express a certain indulgence. In fact since ancient times, the sweet dish was a luxury reserved for the rich. In Ancient Rome, the poor made do with meals consisting cereal and any available meat or vegetables, while the wealthy enjoyed three course meals, with the final course, serving the sweet dish.
Today sweet dish is no longer the preserve of the wealthy. Most of us regularly treat ourselves to both regional and international sweet specialties. Deserts may well be the final course of a meal, but the origins of the word suggests it is something of a star.
The word “Dessert” derives from the French word Desservir which refers to the act of clearing the table. This was literally the practice in Ancient Rome, as soon as the main course was concluded, the entire table was carted away and a new table was brought in for the dessert spread. Consequently the dessert table was called as the second table.
The Ancient Romans were not the first to have a dessert course as a part of the meal, the Greeks before them also enjoyed dessert dishes as did the Ancient Egyptians. What does the development of the Dessert culture tell us? There is no doubt that it has a lot to do with an instinctive need to clear the palate and tame the turbid seas of the stomach after a complex meal. But the dessert is also an expression of an aspiration to transcendence, moving beyond the mechanics and duties of a simple meal.
In spirit desserts speak the heart and the mind. In reality this is consistently borne out in the finest luxury desserts, whether traditional or novel. Cheese cake made from superior cream cheese and the purest vanilla, set upon a graham cracker crust and crafter with a refined sense of visual balance is a sight to behold. It stirs the aesthete in all of us and its meticulous arrangement of flavors and forms is the definition of exquisite.
Let’s check the sweet passage of dessert over years.
Ancient – Fruits were likely the first desserts. The earliest assembled desserts consisted of fruits in honey. Rudimentary fruit cakes are made in Egypt. Ancients Romans make desserts very similar to soufflés, puddings and cheesecakes.
62CE – Roman Emperor Nero dispatches his men to bring ice from the mountains to make his fruit dessert. This is among the first recorded instance of an ice cream.
1400CE – Ginger Bread is made by soaking bread crumbs in honey and spices. White flour becomes popular in medieval Europe.
1600CE – Pralines are created by a French officer and diplomat. Sugar continues to be expensive in the 16th century, honey is used for sweetening.
1700CE -Mughal influences on Indian Cuisine include all time favorite sweet dishes such as Barfi, Halwa and Gulab Jamun.
1740CE – First cupcake is recorded. Powdered sugar becomes widely available across Europe by the 18th Century.
1847CE – Solid Chocolate invented leading to production of first chocolate bars.
20the Century – Machine spun cotton candy debuts at the 1904 World Fair where it is a instant hit. Mass production of confectionery and instant desserts are undertaken. The ice cream cone is invented, sales of ice cream booms in the 1930s. Tiramisu is invented in Italy in 1982.