[Sca-cooks] Spices in England

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Mon Jan 1 10:21:00 PST 2007

Sugar use in general expanded during the 15th Century due to greater 
production.  Greater availability and some reduction in price increased the 
demand which lead to the expansion in production in the Caribbean  with all 
of the attendent goods and ills.  The rise of the Antwerp sugar market, 
which dominated the Northern European sugar trade, and a direct trading 
compact between Antwerp and Cologne, tremendously expanded the use of sugar 
in Central Europe.  IIRC, the currently definitive work on the subject has 
been done by a gentleman named Harrell.

By the end of the 16th Century, the increased production of sugar worldwide 
caused the prices to fall in relation to inflation and the cost of other 
goods moving it from a luxury good to an expensive commodity.  I don't have 
my copy of Braudel's series on Civilization and Capitalism handy, but I 
remember that he provides an overview of the sugar trade between the 15th 
and 18th Centuries that is a little more accessible than some other sources.


----- Original Message ----- 
The fifteenth and sixteenth century are the time when sugar starts becoming 
real sweetener rather than just another spice. The plantations first on the
Canary Islands, then in the Caribbean and South America ('Pernambuco sugar'
becomes a trademark in the latter half of the sixteenth century) lead to
increasing supply and dropping prices in spite of rising demand. Now, I can
not spoek comprehensively to England, but I have a reasonable collection of
German cookbooks from that era and the use osf sugar increases dramatically
between the early fifteenth and the late sixteenth century examples. Since
there appears to be a Northern European cookrey tradition continuum (tmy
current project, the 1571 Lübeck Koekerye, has many parallels with the Newe
Booke of Cookerye), I'd be surprised if we didn't see this in England.

AFAIR the *comparative* porices of spices to other goods did not increase. 
was a matter of general inflation, with wages not keeping pace. Spices
certainly did not disappear from cookery, though it sees fashions changed.


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