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The triumph of sugar

In the eleventh century at the time of the First Crusade sugar arrived in Venice from Syria in the form of cane. It replaced honey which until then was the only known sweetener in Europe. Thanks to its introduction, a revolution in trade and food took place and a confectionery industry was opened in Venice.

Sugar made many Venetian families rich, such as the Corners of the Ca’ Grande, who let it dry out in their attics. Unfortunately due to those dangerous manufacturing processes, one day their palace caught fire and was completely burnt down.

Between 1500 and 1700 sugar was sprinkled on the dishes of the nobles or modeled beforehand in the kitchens to create sculptures used as embellishments.

Small table decorations were made as well as huge structures that followed particular themes drawn from literature, mythology and other subjects. Some of them were very big and reached the height of two metres.

For the breakfast of king Henry III of Valois, Jacopo Sansovino, famous sixteenth century architect known for his constructions around Saint Mark’s Square, prepared the drawings for the king’s sugar decorations of which nothing remains.

The techniques used for their realization came from sculpture. Sugar was prepared and then poured into a gypsum core which was destroyed when sugar solidified, leaving the created object intact.

Due to the perishable and precarious nature, all the objects created in sugar were given away at the end of the banquets to be eaten.

The only remaining evidences are the recipe books and archival sources. In 1700 the fashion changed and porcelain decorations replaced those triumphs made in sugar.

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