The Taste of Sweet: Our Complicated Love Affair with Our Favorite Treats

The Taste of Sweet: Our Complicated Love Affair with Our Favorite Treats

by Joanne Chen


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The Taste of Sweet: Our Complicated Love Affair with Our Favorite Treats by Joanne Chen

Dismissed as déclassé by gourmands, blamed for the scourge of obesity, and yet loved by all, the taste of sweet has long been at the center of both controversy and celebration. For anyone who has ever felt conflicted about a cupcake, this is a book to sink your teeth into. In The Taste of Sweet, unabashed dessert lover Joanne Chen takes us on an unexpected adventure into the nature of a taste you thought you knew and reveals a world you never imagined.

Sweet is complicated, our individual relationships with it shaped as much by childhood memories and clever marketing as the actual sensation of the confection on the tongue. How did organic honey become a luxury while high-fructose corn syrup has been demonized? Why do Americans think of sweets as a guilty pleasure when other cultures just enjoy them? What new sweetener, destined to change the very definition of the word sweet, is being perfected right now in labs around the world?

Chen finds the answers by visiting sensory scientists who study taste buds, horticulturalists who are out to breed the perfect strawberry, and educators who are researching the link between class and obesity. Along the way she sheds new light on a familiar taste by exploring the historical sweet­scape through the banquet tables of emperors, the pie safes of American pioneers, the corporate giants that exist to fulfill our every sweet wish, and the desserts that have delighted her throughout the years. This fabulously entertaining story of sweet will change the way you think about your next cookie.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307351913
Publisher: Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony
Publication date: 03/24/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 272
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

JOANNE CHEN is an editor and writer in New York City. Her work has appeared in Fortune Small Business, Life, Vogue, Health, Food & Wine, and the New York Times. Visit her website at

From the Hardcover edition.

Table of Contents

Introduction     1
Sweet Enough for You?     13
The Myth of the Refined Palate     31
The Real Taste of Strawberry     55
Always Room for Dessert     79
Sweet Tooths Anonymous     99
Does Sweet Make You Fat?     119
Let Them Eat Cake     135
Guilty Pleasures     159
A More Perfect Sweetener     181
And Good for You     205
Notes     223
Acknowledgments     253
Index     255

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