Anthropomorphic and Zoomorphic Sweets

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sweets have, over the centuries, been prepared, bought, and exchanged as presents that add significance to convivial, pagan, and religious celebrations. A wealth of creatures, or parts of their bodies, convey symbolism from the most remote, even pre-totemic times. These sweets are highly aesthetic, as well as delicious and diverse in their ingredients, techniques, intentionality, and meanings. Often they are employed as messengers of mythological beliefs, pagan legends, or episodes of biblical origin, shared through oral tradition and now embedded in updated imagery and practices. Their methods of production and consumption were often recorded in medieval texts. In Spain, writers such as Lope de Vega and Cervantes described them, and the secrets of their production were standardized in treatises on the art of sweet making, such as those by Diego Granado, Martinez Montiño, and Juan de la Mata.