Sweet And Not So Simple: How Sugar Took Over The World?
Updated : January 20, 2022 05:01 IST
We are sharing with you the complicated history of how sugar came to be.
It’s hard to imagine a world without sugar. Opening your fridge and not finding
a bag of chocolates or a plate of barfi seems so sad. Sugar is unquestionably
the most addictive food ingredient in the world. And not having sugar around
is an awful lot of spice and salt.
A long, long time ago, in 10,000 BC there was no sugar but only honey. Parts
of the world that didn’t have ice had bees and by extension honey. Americas
didn’t have bees so they made use of crushed fruit and agave nectar from
cactus. Some two thousand later, sugar was first cultivated in New Guinea
which it is native to. At the time, people would chew on the reeds. A few
thousand years later, sugar cane made its way to the Philippines and India. And,
in fact, India was the first country to refine it.
The first sugar mill was developed in India around 100 AD. In texts like
Mahabhashya of Patanjali, recipes called for sugar. So that is the first written
indication of the usage of sugar. In 327 AD, the Greeks and Romans
discovered sugar when they came to India.
Around this time, sugar was popularised for its medicinal properties and soon
enough it was even crystallised. Years after that circa 650 AD, the Arabs
started expanding the production of sugar. Under their rule, it was seen as a
royal delicacy and not a spice or medicine. The Egyptians learnt from the
Arabs and started refining sugar to its purest whitest state.
When the Europeans came to Jerusalem, they became obsessed with sugar
and brought it back to their home and soon enough it was seen as a godsend.
Till the 1300s only the wealthiest could afford sugar.
Over the next couple of centuries, sugar switched many hands and was
cultivated in many countries. Slave trade and the sugar industry were also
quite synonymous. In the modern era, sugar was lost its royalty but it may just
be the only spice that all people adore. Without it, desserts would have never
found a way to be part of our meals and wouldn’t life have been just so dull?