The West (U.S.)

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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The West (U.S.), with its moderate climate and fertile land, particularly along the coast and inland valleys, features desserts that decidedly focus on the fruits and nuts that flourish in the region. A favorite dessert flavor is lemon—often the sweet Meyer, followed by other fruits and nuts, with apples possibly in the lead. Chocolate is also very popular. Recently cultivated with success in Hawaii, chocolate also has a long history of quality production in the West.

Even before the arrival of European explorers, the West was a land of plenty, and it was more densely populated by indigenous peoples than other regions of North America. Many native ingredients, favored for desserts today, are now grown commercially, such as blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, currants, and hazelnuts (filberts). Foragers in the Northwest harvest, as the Native peoples did, salmonberries, cloudberries, thimbleberries, huckleberries (red and blue), and wild strawberries. See native american and pacific northwest (U.S.). The Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804 opened the Northwest to overland pioneers who brought their traditional American pies, cakes, cobblers, and puddings. Later, Scandinavian immigrants introduced their pastries and sweets.