To the Western elite who had fallen under sugar’s spell there were few options: deal with the small southern European sugar manufacturers, defeat the Turk, or develop new sources of sugar.
In school they call it the age of exploration, the search for territories and islands that would send Europeans all around the world.
For years sugar refinement remained a secret science, passed master to apprentice.
By 600 the art had spread to Persia, where rulers entertained guests with a plethora of sweets.
When Arab armies conquered the region, they carried away the knowledge and love of sugar.
It was like throwing paint at a fan: first here, then there, sugar turning up wherever Allah was worshipped.
Walton, Clarksdale born and bred, was leading me through the school, discussing ways the faculty is trying to help students—baked instead of fried, fruit instead of candy—most of whom have two meals a day in the lunchroom.
She was wearing scrubs—standard Monday dress for teachers, to reinforce the school’s commitment to health and wellness.
They came home full of visions and stories and memories of sugar.
In reality it was, to no small degree, a hunt for fields where sugarcane would prosper.
In 1425 the Portuguese prince known as Henry the Navigator sent sugarcane to Madeira with an early group of colonists.
“Wherever they went, the Arabs brought with them sugar, the product and the technology of its production,” writes Sidney Mintz in Sweetness and Power.
“Sugar, we are told, followed the Koran.” Muslim caliphs made a great show of sugar.