The Emergence of Thematic Sweets in Spain

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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The immensely contrasting regions of Spain have been enriched by a convivial crush of various ethnicities. Native Tartessians and Iberians saw the arrival and challenge of Celts, Greeks, Romans, Jews, Visigoths, Moors, other Europeans, and Americans, all exchanging material culture such as ingredients, instruments, and techniques, as well as the wealth of their conceptual imagery. Primal sobriety, isolation and poverty, then classicism, followed in 711 by the sudden impact of the Arabic sense of refined luxury, established a culinary wisdom reflecting the synthesis of three cultures: Moorish, Jewish, and Christian. Marzipan and zoomorphic marzipan figures are Semitic in origin. See marzipan. From the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries, symbols of political and economic power were imported from Italy and found their way into kitchen and dining room. The tables of nobles and kings were invaded by monumental scenes of heroic animals and humans at leisure or in combat, cast of sugar, pastry, or marzipan and decorated with arabesques and pan de oro (gold foil), and colored with fancy substances such as cochineal and sandalwood, as described in the literature of the period. See food colorings and sugar sculpture.