The Story of How Dessert Was Invented

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People around the world love to indulge in sugary treats. Dessert is often one of the more popular parts of a meal and few American children were not told, at one point or another, “You won’t get dessert until you clean your plate.” But where does the word and the course come from?

The word “dessert” is derived from the French word “desservir.” That means “clear the table.” The term was used to describe the snacks of nuts and candied fruit that were available after dinner was done.

The first fancy dessert took place in 1529. King Louis XII had planned a great feast for his daughter, Princess Renee. At the time, people throughout Italy were fascinated by all things with sugar. They would have ornate sculptures of the stuff made for their banquets. When the party was scheduled for the town of Ferrara, the people there knew they had to make something really special for the guests of such an event.

The main dish that night included such delicacies as poultry covered in blancmange (this is a cream sauce fortified with sugar and corn starch). Fritters of bone marrow were fried and served with more sugar sauce. Pretty much everything on the menu that evening was covered in sugary syrups. They even went as far as to bake eels in marzipan.

The dessert dish was an elaborate pie filled with sugar that had been made into jewels. This was served for the ninth, and final meal of the night.

It took a while for the course to escape the confines of Western Europe. While people have enjoyed eating sugar as long as they have been on the planet, having a sweet course following a savory dish was something people did not do. It should be noted that, the taste of sweetness has been very important for the evolution of many animals on the planet. Because this is how nature tells us that produce, such as fruit, is ready to eat, it is crucial for many species. To show how we taste sweet is related to the evolution of species, cats, who are obligate carnivores, cannot taste sweet items because they do not need to eat the,.

Throughout history, as long as commerce was a thing, sugar has been one of the more expensive items to buy. Back in the day, having sugary items in the home was seen as a status thing. The commodity grew in popularity and became more expensive in the 1400s. When people wanted to flaunt their good fortune, they did it by bringing out the sugar.

But people then had other things to use their sugar for than desserts. They seasoned stews, meats and just about anything they found in the sea. Sugar’s popularity did take a fall in the 17th century but you cannot keep a good commodity down for long and it was bound to make a comeback.

Sugar did just that, again in France, where sugary treats were enjoyed in French “salons.” Chefs would make a plethora of dessert items ranging from petits fours (little ovens) tartes and elcairs. They brought their delicacies to the parties to show off their skills. The practice of having smaller nite sized dessert portions was expanded in Russia where they were enjoyed along with afternoon tea.

Desserts have come a long way since the development of the dinner course and creation of the name. One other invention that made this part of the meal special was the invention of ice cream. The exact origins of the frozen treat are unknown but the current version of these frozen treats was said to have been developed first in Italy, where it was (and is) called “gelato.” It underwent a jump in how it is made in France but it took it move to the United States for the real thing we call ice cream to be developed.

Desserts have changed a lot over the course of their existence but it is clear that there is no going back now. These treats will be seen as just that until the very end of time.

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