Sugar. Sweetie. Honey. I love sugar… I’m not ashamed to admit it. I
love how it smells, how it tastes, its many forms, the extraordinary
ways it can be molded and shaped and transformed…. There’s a reason
why we call people we love by its name. “I love you, Sugar.”
Yes, I know that the consumption of sugar contributes to obesity,
diabetes and tooth decay. But I also know that we can lessen those
maladies by following the age-old practice of moderation when
approaching the sweet crystals. So yes, sugar. I welcome you.
Sugar — chemically, sucrose — is a naturally occurring substance in
plants, produced through photosynthesis (remember 3rd grade science
class?). Most people are familiar with sugarcane; the giant grass
which is the source of much commercially produced sugar. I remember
as a kid finding foot-long cut stalks in the produce section of our
grocery store. Mom would buy each of us three sisters a stalk, and we would walk
around the neighborhood chewing the cut ends and sucking out the
sweet juice … heaven!
Following sugarcane, the sugar beet comes in a close second for it’s
high natural sucrose content. Before the twentieth century,
sugarcane was responsible for 95% of the world’s sugar supply, but by
the 1980s, sugar beets and sugarcane shared equally in the U.S. sugar
In the U.S., grocery stores carry granulated, powdered, light and
dark brown sugar. But travel across the pond, and you’ll enter a
completely new world of sugars. In Britain there’s demerara or
turbinado (AKA raw sugar), muscovado (a darker, coarser and stickier
form of our brown sugar), and castor/caster sugar (superfine) in the
sugar aisle. The simple task of popping down to the shop for a pound
of sweetness can be bewildering.
Another sugar memory: as a kid, I was mesmerized by pretty little
sugar eggs, which contained spring scenes. They came out only at
Easter, and usually had bunnies inside. Crafty clever Mom learned
how to make them and taught me (and my 3rd grade class!) the art. I hear-
tell that some of those eggs from days of yore remain in the Easter
decorations of some of my old friends.
It always made me sad that those treasures only appeared in the
spring, and only for a few weeks. Recently I decided to see if I
could make a sugar egg that was a little updated, and one that might turn up
any time of the year. Next? Maybe a guy fishing… what might be found below?