Food Advent Calendar – No.16: Sugar


Excuse the sarcasm but what would Christmas be like without sugar? White cane sugar, brown sugar, caster sugar, icing sugar, etc., etc. Christmas treat cooking would not be the same without the existence of sugar.

Mediterranean sugar production faced many challenges: a diminished labour pool, a climate that isn’t ideal for growing cane, and depleted soil and deforestation. Importing sugar is easier than growing and producing it. When the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453, the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe, they also took control of, and disrupted, the major trade routes. Looking for ways to circumvent the Turks and Arabs, Europeans took to the seas to find new lands on which to grow their own sugar.

Would you blame the Europeans with new products like tea, coffee and chocolate making their way to their mainland? And certainly, Christmas would not be the same without sugar as well. From cookies, to cakes, to glazes, to marmalades, nearly if not all Christmas recipes consist of a dose of sugar.

Further reading

Illustrated history of sugar

Fundamentals: Types of Sugar


Previous posts from our advent calendar:

  1. Cinnamon
  2. Hazelnut
  3. Clementine
  4. Mace 
  5. Apple
  6. Juniper
  7. Ginger
  8. Star Anise
  9. Dates
  10. Peppercorns 
  11. Coffee
  12. Chestnuts
  13. Cranberry
  14. Honey
  15. Glacé fruit