Sugar Work

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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The most spectacular sugar preparations are those that take advantage of sugar’s similarity to glass: its transparency and capacity to be sculpted, blown, and drawn out into countless shapes. “Sugar work,” as such preparations are called, goes back at least 500 years. A “nest of silken threads,” probably similar to our spun sugar, was made from malt syrup for the Chinese Imperial household before 1600; and in 17th-century Italy, various banquet decorations, including dishes, were made from sugar. In Japan, there is a traditional street entertainment called “sweet candy craft,” amezaiku, in which the performers sculpt flowers, animals, and other shapes while people watch.