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(Chicago Review Press), by Michael Krondl

Pleasure has a long history, and so do desserts in Michael Krondl’s delicious account. The awardwinning cooking instructor finds a sweet tradition going back thousands of years in India, where the ambrosia is described in Hindu scriptures, and archeological evidence for baklava’s origins in the Fertile Crescent of antiquity. He doesn’t neglect the pastry shops of Rome, Paris and Vienna, starting with the sugar and spice that entered Western civilization through trade with the Near East in the Middle Ages. Bringing his narrative to the present, Krondl describes oddball high-end creations (sugared olives?) at pretentious gourmet restaurants as well as the mass-market cupcake, “a perfect reflection of the youth culture that has been dominant ever since America’s baby boomers hijacked the nation.” (David Luhrssen)