Some like it salty, some like it sweet. Increasing number of studies talk about the highly addictive qualities of sugar or overly salty processed foods. Lifestyle articles and health books quote disastrous results with too much sugar in your diet like type A diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other complaints. But ...I would like to look at sugar and sweets as a part of our history, a lifestyle and I was heartened to read a recent article published in Vogue a couple of months ago, 10 health myths diet experts and doctors want you to stop believing, which takes the middle ground. It breaks down the "demonization"👹 of sugar to the simple common fact that our bodies break down sugars, whether it be maple syrup, organic agave, a processed sweetener, or white sugar, all the same way. Cutting down on sugary drinks, being more mindful of hidden sugars in yogurts and breads and processed foods is mentioned, but also the important factor that many diet books forget: restricting foods often encourages binging on it later and feeling deprived. The most refreshing part of the classic best seller from 2004, French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano is that she talks about having your dark chocolate but balancing it out in your diet plan for the week. It is not about what you cannot have, but how you plan a sensible life of enjoying your fruit tarts and French bread, savoring the quality rather than the quantity of your sweet treats. For example, small sacrifices like taking the stairs when you could take an elevator every day make a long term difference. Her every day, sensible chic wisdom is what made this book a iconic best seller.
Travelling around the world, it is obvious that sweet delicacies are very much part of our historical and social fabric, whether it be the fantastic cakes still made in French bakeries dating from the era of Marie Antoinette 🎂 to the charming cafes of Vienna where they created sacher torte (the best cake in the world with layers of chocolate, raspberry and icing cream). In a recent trip to Milan I witnessed the sumptuous chocolates made in Italy seen to the left made from century old recipes using pistachios, cream and almonds. History has it that the Romans ate honey cakes and fruit!
Being half Indian, I was amazed to learn that the actual word "sugar" is thought to be derived from Sanskrit, Indian's most ancient language. Sugar was documented in ancient Sanskrit literature noting the planting of sugar cane in the Bengal area in India according to Wikipedia, between 1500- 500 BC. Extracting sugar cane juice from sugar cane plantations in South East Asia dates back to 8000 BC! Living in Kerala, the land of swaying lush sugarcane, where you can actually try sugar cane freshly squeezed on the highways (often spiked lime and some spice) the timeless story of sugar all comes together.