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Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert

3.1 of 5 stars 3.10  ·  rating details  ·  69 ratings  ·  19 reviews
From the sacred fudge served to India’s gods to the ephemeral baklava of Istanbul’s harems, the towering sugar creations of Renaissance Italy, and the exotically scented macarons of twenty-first century Paris, the world’s confectionary arts have not only mirrored social, technological, and political revolutions, they have also, in many ways, been in their vanguard. Sweet I ...more
Hardcover, 418 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Chicago Review Press (first published January 1st 2011)
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Salt by Mark KurlanskyCod by Mark KurlanskyFour Fish by Paul GreenbergUncommon Grounds by Mark PendergrastBanana by Dan Koeppel
Food & Drink Histories
134th out of 167 books — 18 voters
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Histories of the Everyday
173rd out of 251 books — 232 voters


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Community Reviews

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Tara Brabazon
Terrific. It is remarkable how food triggers such a diversity of writing styles and modes. Some food media activate a hyperbole that takes my breath away. Some recipe books demonstrate such a tight use of language that it is like a discursive diet.

Michael Krondl's _Sweet Invention_ is - like Goldilocks and the three bears - just right. It is entertaining, quirky and evocative. The sensuality of food is demonstrated without steering into Nigella Lawson-fuelled food pornography. Well written and c
...more
Birgit
Having a bit of a sweet tooth I simply could not pass up the chance to reading a book on the wonderful world of desserts. In Sweet Invention Michael Krondl outlines how desserts developed in different regions of the world. Focusing on six nations that have wielded the greatest influence on other societies, this book is certainly not, as the subtitle would suggest, a concise survey on the topic, but nonetheless a delicious journey.
From India to Italy, from Austria to the US, you find out about th
...more
jennifer
Beginning thousands of years ago with the sweet milk and cheese treats of India and coming up to the current trendy cupcakes, this seems to cover every bit of information concerning baked goods from the most influential areas of the world.
I wish I had loved this book, and in the hands of many authors, like Steve Almond (Candyfreak), it would have been lots of fun, but while Krondl is an extraordinary researcher, he's a dull writer in desperate need of a strong-willed editor, because he seems to
...more
Candi
This was an interesting and entertaining read. Michael Krondl includes a wealth of information without it being too technical and there are quite a few charming anecdotes that make the narrative personal and engaging. The book is divided up in six chapters, each covering the history of sweet food in a single country or region. It started with India and ended with the US, so although I liked the chapter on India, I found the book got progressively more interesting as it got to countries I was mor ...more
Jennifer
Sweet Invention should have been the perfect gift for any dessert lover, something to wrap up as an awesome accompaniment to that copy of Engoron's Choclatique already waiting under the Christmas tree for your favorite baker. Natalya Balnova's lovely yet simple jacket design certainly hints at delights for the curious gastronome - pity author Michael Krondl squanders all that potential with his remarkably dull text.

To be fair, Krondl isn't helped any by the utter lack of design within the book i
...more
Katie
Sweet Invention is a book about the history of dessert in several regions of the world.

I'm a huge fan of not only food, but of food history, so I was eager to see what I could learn. While there was a lot of information in Sweet Invention, I found myself not as interested as I could have been. The chapter on India was good, but then it became rather dry and textbook like. I'm not saying that I need history to be dumbed down for me to enjoy it, but I think that the author could have spent some mo
...more
Laurie Gold
"Michael Krondl’s Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert, takes readers on an often fascinating journey of desserts in six 'dessert superpower' regions: India, the Middle East, Italy, France, Austria, and the United States. The history of food...even of the icing on the cake as opposed to the cake itself...is as terrific a way to impart knowledge as is the history of fashion. Both are surprisingly good as they give us an accessible way to track changes over time in arenas as diverse as politics, ...more
Laura
Didn't finish this....it was sort of interesting, but I got the impression that the author wasn't sure of how to organize the massive amount of material he had, despite his focus on the dessert history of 6 specific nations. In the Indian section, for example, he was introducing a new dessert and new word every other syllable, and beyond describing "families" of sweets, it got almost detailed. I think in some places he would have benefited the reader by creating summary tables or otherwise break ...more
Lauren
Really amazing book if you are into the history of specific desserts. However, it got boring for me and I didn't end up finishing it.
Amanda
Got halfway through, had to return to the library, meant to recheck it out, never got around to it- and never really cared. It's rare I don't finish a book, and it wasn't that this book was so terrible, in fact, parts were enthralling and full of brand new facts. But the writing wasn't as sweet as its subject, and there was too much emphasis on the ingredients over the stories & culture behind them. Maybe one day, I'll read the other half, but I'll definitely be eating a lot of dessert betwe ...more
Amanda
would have liked it to have more cultures explored!
Ron
Dec 07, 2012 Ron rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
I heard interviews with the author on NPR's All Things Considered and then Talk of the Nation and a couple of other shows. So when the local university got I copy, I checked it out. Both my wife and I enjoyed the book, the portions on Italy, Paris, Vienna, and United States more than India and the Middle East. The author includes a recipe with each chapter, so read and enjoy dreaming of all the types of desserts that have existed.
Hester
While not as engrossing as "The Taste of Conquest," I still learned plenty, especially about India. The insight that effected me most was that, in every country he profiled except the US, desert making is usually left up to artisanal experts. Here, our ideal sweets (apple pie, cookies, brownies) are homemade. This reflects very different world views.
On a side note, I would have been interested in a history of deserts in the far east.
Ginny
A little more social and political history and a little less delicious description than I expected, but still passable. I don't think Krondl did a particularly good job organizing and focusing his material, even with the arbitrary choice to only tell the history of dessert through the lens of six national histories. Even so, my main questions about the development of dessert were answered.
Susan
Very interesting, I learned a lot, found some desserts that I would like to learn how to make. The United States chapter bothered me a little, I have always liked to make my desserts from scratch and try new things. So, perhaps this is not normal?
Kristen
This was interesting, but became a bit repetitive after a while. Most of the discussion was about sugar and its impact on the Indian, Middle Eastern, European, and United State cultures. I am impressed with Krondl's work, going back to BCE recipes.
April
I expected this to be fascinating, but was disappointed. I couldn't get into it. I'd rather spend my time reading something else.
Lisa
Very interesting - I wish the writing were a bit more captivating, tho.
Emily
Nov 21, 2011 Emily marked it as to-read
On order at Weber as of 11/21/11.
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