Sugar, a History

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So my step mom made blueberry muffins yesterday while I was working. I smelled them before I even knew she was doing anything. They smelled like pancakes. When she brought them out they were mounted on a plate and dusted with confectioners sugar. I picked one up and was in the middle of taking a bite when my dad said something that made me laugh. I snorted the sugar just short of the keyboard, onto the mouse pad, and all down my front. In the midst of my panicky, checking of the keyboard I thought it would be an interesting idea to look up the origin of confectioners sugar or just sugar in general. So, here goes:

The Ancient Greeks and Romans used to import sugar as a medicine rather than a food, which gets me thinking about “A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down.” It is likely that the people of New Guinea were the first culture to domesticate sugarcane, probably around 8,000 BC. Because it's sugar, it spread throughout Southeast Asia like wildfire. It reached China and India, both of which developed refining processes that turned the juice into crystals. In the sixth century AD, all of this had reached Persia, and went on to capture the Mediterranean when the Arabs expanded. It spread to the Spanish as well, and from them via Christopher Columbus to the New World. Before extracting techniques were developed, people used to chew on sugar canes and suck the juice out. I remember my mom did that with me once. We went to an Asian market and she bought pure sugarcane. When we got home she chopped it up, and gave it to my brother and I. It was all tough and stringy, and tasted slightly vegetable-y, but not in a weird way. She grew up in the Philippines, and that was one of the treats they used to get when they were good. The European use of sugar and well after was well documented, however it's uses elsewhere did not have the same good fortune (if sugar has opinions on such things as its own fortune). Before the sugar was common the most...
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