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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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dessert, in the sense of a sweet, concluding course to a meal, is a French custom that developed slowly over several hundred years, reaching its current form only in the twentieth century. Even now, the practice of serving a final pastry or confectionery course is neither ubiquitous nor universal, even in France. Most cultures do not finish their meals on a sweet note, and even when they do, it is often no more than with a piece of fruit. In Renaissance Italy, sweet dishes were commonly interspersed with savory, as they were in Ottoman Turkey. Even the French make exceptions, occasionally starting a meal with melon or inserting a sorbet course between two savory dishes. Many cultures eat certain meals where sweets predominate. See sweet meals. Nonetheless, with the growth of a globalized restaurant culture, the habit of finishing lunch or dinner with a sweet prepared dish is now familiar to everyone who can afford the bill.