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Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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ambrosia is “the food of the Gods” in Greek mythology, but in the earthly realm it is a cross between a salad and a dessert. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the word “ambrosia” referred to a drink; the Oxford English Dictionary describes it as “a mixture of water, oil, and various fruits anciently used as a libation; also a perfumed draught or flavored beverage.” It is uncertain exactly when the leap from cup to plate occurred, but published American recipes for ambrosia date to the late 1800s. The earliest, such as the one in Woods Wilcox’s Buckeye Cookery (1877), call for sprinkling sugar between layers of peeled, sliced oranges and grated “cocoanut.” By the early twentieth century cut-up pineapple found its way into the recipe. Mid-twentieth-century versions included whipped cream, marshmallows, bananas, nuts, and raisins.