Author du Jour: Susan Benjamin, “Sweet as Sin.”
(Prometheus Books, P 320, $18.00)
I cannot imagine dentists liking this book, or even less buying it. In fact it is probably number one on their list of banned books. I would, however, recommend it to them, just to better know their enemies. “Sweet as Sin,” is all about candies. Sweet and sugary. Sticky and addictive. The very stuff your teeth in a long-term relationship dislike but which constantly hits the sweet spot on your taste buds. I do not know of any kid or adult who do not enjoy candies, even surgarless ones.
Benjamin is a candy specialist, and she has written an incredible journey through the evolution of confections. It is not just a history of candies, but also an almanac filled with intoxicating stories of the country, starting with Native American and the little-known son of a slave woman. Like all good candies, the book has a lingering flavor, which will make you ponder about the changing quality of our palate through time. Why for some generations eating barks, roots and bugs were considered treats, whereas now candies have to be coated with layers of sugar before anyone glance at it or even considers sucking on them? At heart, “Sweet as Sin” is an unwrapped story of the evolution of the American society, and of the development of gustatory passions, plus the invention of the concept of lots and lots of sticky fingers. Can you say the US has a sweet tooth?