Sunday, January 8, 2012

"A waffle is

like a pancake with a syrup trap."
~Mitch Hedberg

Do you know that we have the Arabs to thank for sugar? According to my research, cane sugar was first used in Polynesia, and, in 510 BC, the Emperor Darius of what was then Persia invaded India where he found "the reed which gives honey without bees". The secret of cane sugar, as with many other of man's discoveries, was kept a closely guarded secret since the finished product was exported for a rich profit.

When the Arab peoples invaded Persia in 642 AD, they found sugar cane being grown and learned how sugar was made. As their expansion continued, they established sugar production in other lands that they conquered including North Africa and Spain.
Until the mid 1800s, refined white sugar was a scarce expensive luxury. Coarse brown sugar, molasses, sorghum and maple sugar and syrup were the sweeteners of the everyday housewife. According to some old catalogues, syrup pitchers (called "syrups" for short) were originally called molasses cans, or syrup jugs. Syrups came in a variety of colorful containers in a different styles of glass products both blown & molded as well as the porcelain beauties pictured here. This is why "antiques" can be fascinating...they hold the secrets of the past...but, for some reason, we tend to fear learning, but it can be so revealing. That is why when I buy something, I have to is not good enough to think, "Oh, I can mark that up." I have to put it in perspective...and so here is the perspective of the Victorian syrup.Maple syrup was first collected and used by Native American Indians. No, the New Englanders did not discover it! It is traditionally harvested by tapping a maple tree through the bark and into the wood, then letting the sap run into a bucket, which requires daily collecting. Molasses, sometimes called sorghum, is a thick syrup by-product from the processing of the sugar cane or sugar beet into sugar.During the Victorian times, which is when these syrups were popular, treacle would have been the generic word in Britain for any syrup made in the process of refining sugar cane, and it can range from very light to very dark. In practice, the lighter syrup which is produced when the sugar cane juice is first boiled, is called light treacle or golden syrup. As you can see in the ad, the product came in a can, and, in better households was transferred to the syrup pitcher.The second boiling produces a much darker syrup, which British cooks call treacle (or dark treacle) and we call molasses (or dark molasses). The third boiling produces what we both apparently call blackstrap molasses, which is very dark and somewhat bitter, and which health-food advocates think is heaven on earth although it is more often used to feed cattle.

The sugar industry in some countries is highly protected. The United States, for example, maintains a domestic price for sugar well above the world price and controls the amount of sugar imported. The European Union protects its beet growers, and the industry in India is carefully regulated to control production and domestic prices. Clearly, interventionist traditions in the industry established long ago remain very much alive. In most countries there are stocks of sugar held against sudden shortages and increases in price. And you thought it was oil?!
“The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.”
~John D. Rockefeller


Rachel said...

I find all your research really fascinating. Thanks for putting the time into it! I just wanted to point out that molasses and sorghum aren't the same thing. I grew up with sorghum - it is actually from a grass-like plant.

Susie Rosso Wolf said...

I absolutely love your blog and will be back often. If ever I'm in Jersey I'll have to visit your store and spend hours there, I'm sure. You're very interesting and by the way...I still wear hippie clothes too! I might live on the prairie but I'm a hippie at heart!

Be well and happy!
Susie Rosso Wolf