Sex and Religion

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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Well into the nineteenth century, in Catholic areas of the Mediterranean like Sicily and Spain, nuns were renowned for their confectionery preparation, and in certain places this is still the case. See convent sweets. It was not unusual for the daughters of noble families to be forcibly sent to a convent, where they learned to prepare delicious desserts that were then consumed by the upper classes. Nuns renounced the temptations of the flesh but toiled in the kitchen for others’ delectation, reinforcing social and gender structures of power. The connection between nuns and sweetness was ironically consecrated by lay desserts such as barrigas de freiras (nun’s bellies) in Portugal and pets de nonnes (nun’s farts) in France.