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Sweet Invention: A History of Dessert Hardcover – October 1, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Michael Krondl writes about the history of desserts with grace, wit, and a considerable sweet tooth."  —Nick Malgieri, author of BAKE! and The Modern Baker


"Frosted with eye-catching detail, layered with the rich and mouthwatering history of all things sweet, and leavened by inspired scholarship, Michael Krondl's history of dessert is a lush confection in its own right. . . . This is a must-read for all of us who care about food history, or have a sweet tooth."  —Ian Kelly, author of Cooking for Kings: The Life of Antonin Careme, the First Celebrity Chef



"Sweet Invention is a captivating journey of dessert travel. Beautifully written and fun to read, Michael Krondl manages to take us on a ride as kid in a candy store throughout the ages to modern day."  —Elizabeth Falkner, chef/pastry chef and author of Elizabeth Falkner's Demolition Desserts



"Exhaustive and enlightening history of desserts."  —Booklist

About the Author

Michael Krondl is a food historian and the author of The Taste of Conquest, The Great Little Pumpkin Cookbook, and Around the American Table. He is an award-winning cooking instructor, food writer, and former chef. His writing credits include Gastronomica, New York Newsday, and Nation’s Restaurant News as well as multiple contributions to The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America. For more information visit www.sweetinvention.net
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press (October 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1556529546
  • ISBN-13: 978-1556529542
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,078,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Having a bit of a sweet tooth I simply could not pass up the chance to reading a book on the wonderful world of desserts. In Sweet Invention Michael Krondl outlines how desserts developed in different regions of the world. Focusing on six nations that have wielded the greatest influence on other societies, this book is certainly not, as the subtitle would suggest, a concise survey on the topic, but nonetheless a delicious journey.
From India to Italy, from Austria to the US, you find out about the historical and cultural origins of the most common forms of sweet meals in these regions, how they developed over the centuries, and influenced each other across the borders. I liked how the author also includes a view on the importance of the sugar trade, which is obviously an essential part of everything that spells "dessert". A nice touch are the recipes that end each chapter, though you would have to be a pastry chef to actually attempt them.
Quite unusual, but making for a colorful reading experience, was how Krondl sets the mood with his elaborate descriptions of times long gone. Unfortunately he does so to a fault, and the focus that should be on the desserts themselves often shifts to narrations on the surrounding ambience, which might be interesting to some readers, but certainly not those who are looking for actual information on the topic.
In short: A fascinating journey through the world of desserts!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley.com book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought it because it was the only book around about history of dessert, and the people gave it the five stars reviews, and now I am so disappointed, I wish I could have my money back, (even though it's Kindle I shall certainly try to send it back).
I hoped for a serious book about how dessert as a course came about (and that was what he monochrome cover suggested), but what I got was a detailed account of author's travels, how he sat in his grandmother's lap, and everything else that came to his mind.
Besides the chatty style, my biggest objection is that, reading the book, I've got the feeling that it never crossed the author's mind that dessert might be a different thing from "food with something sweet in it".
Desserts? Oh, they came about because people liked them. No. In fact they were always there. But he traveled everywhere. And once there, he talked about sweets a lot. And oh, all those posh chefs whom he met, and who made all those lovely desserts he ate were great. And his grandmother was great too.
So, in my opinion, this is not the book on the history of dessert, although the author (quite often) does mention both.
Let me quote just a few lines from the book:
"Religion may also explain, at least in part, the Austrian tradition of the Jause, or snack." (without further explanation)
"The Torte or cake is as much part of the Austrian national DNA as baklava is to the Turkish genetic code."
"And is a birthday cake in the shape of a Barbie not laden with symbolism? In this respect we still have a lot in common with the Romans."

And the following (again in my opinion) quite important point, he apparently didn't even consider as a point.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had been looking forward to Krondl's new book, having enjoyed his previous one - The Taste of Conquest, and I was not disappointed. The author combines his professional culinary knowledge with understanding of history and geography; the book is a delight to read and full of savoring tidbits. The chapters are by country and region; I enjoyed India and Vienna the most, but each journey was a delicious one.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the second book I've read - and adored - by Krondl. This one, like the other (about spices and the spice trade), was like traveling with an ever curious, super knowledgeable, entertaining and consistently good natured companion. Everyone can learn something on this journey of a book - even sweet-tooths, travel lovers and history buffs - because Krondl weaves in so many strands of culture and religion and history, all while grounding his tour from India to the Middle East, Europe, and finally to the U.S. in his own experience of each place and those of the expert dessert-makers he meets. While I've never actually loved history, this history - about dessert and sweets and what they meant in the past and mean today, i.e., a context that is easy to relate to - is fascinating. (And for those more in the know about food history, or more academically inclined, Krondl clearly did his homework and provides endnotes throughout the book.) "Sweet Invention" is one of those books that somehow instills you with both knowledge AND wonder about the world and our place in it. Needless to say, I highly recommend it and can't wait for Krondl's next adventure.
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