The simple answer to the question of whether sugar is a spice or not is a big & straight NO. Sugar is not a spice!It should be mentioned that in past it was once considered as a spice & also a medicine but nowadays it is only considered as a sweetener.
“Sugar & spice & everything nice,” is a phrase that everyone has heard at least once in their whole life. Sugar & spice have been associated with each other for ages. This association might have raised questions in your head about how close these two are. Is sugar a spice itself? Or are these two different? It might sound like a silly question in the head but it is actually pretty valid. For knowing the relationship between these two, it is required to go a little deeper into their traits & history. In this article, the best effort is made to decode all the questions related to sugar as a spice!
What is sugar?
This question about sugar’s definition might sound like a very dumb question to many people, they might go like,” sugar is sugar, duh!” But this question actually has a very interesting answer to it. After all, sugar is not just sugar! Sugar is a sweetener that has been integrated into human lives from their very first meal! For as long as human history goes, traces of sugar can be easily found.
Scientifically speaking, sugar is a simple carbohydrate that is also known as glucose. The calorie amount in sugar is also high as 100 grams of sugar has 387 calories in it. For this reason, many people try to avoid it yet it is used in almost all food items. There are mainly two types of sugar – natural & processed. We find natural sugars in fruits, vegetables, etc, while processed sugars are found in various processed foods like chips, biscuits, processed drinks & sweets like candy, and chocolate.
Sugar has been an almost indispensable part of human life. It is present in every part of their life starting from special occasions to simple day-to-day meals. So, it is quite natural to have questions related to it. Like everybody knows it is a sweetener but can sugar also be considered a spice?
What is considered a spice?
Spices are basically compounds that are obtained from various parts of a plant like roots, stems, seeds, flowers, etc (except leaves, because leaves, dried or fresh, are called herbs).
They are used in many dishes. They provide flavor to the otherwise bland food. They might be spicy or completely bland in taste, it generally depends on the spice we are using. They are often confused with seasonings or herbs but all these are not the same. It should be mentioned that sugar can be content of seasoning but not a spice. They are inherently different.
Why sugar is not considered as a spice?
The reason why sugar is not considered a spice is that even though it is obtained from a plant, it is not actually a part of it. It might sound a bit confusing but the distinction is pretty valid. Natural sugar is one of the contents that are present within a plant’s various parts like leaves, fruits, vegetables, stems, roots, etc. On the other hand, processed sugar is obtained by processing the nectar from plants. The nectar of the plant then goes through various refinements before reaching the kitchens for use. In none of the cases, sugar can be directly obtained as an individual item. It either needs to be processed or be taken indirectly from other parts of the plant.
History of sugar as a spice
As mentioned before in the article, sugar was actually considered a spice historically. It has a long history as a spice. In the 16th century, in Italy (specifically Naples), consuming sugar was actually considered good luck! Many people consumed it in large quantities in hopes of acquiring wealth. Not surprisingly, sugar was actually limited to the rich at the time. It is said that in Italy, sugar was almost used the same way as salt is used by us nowadays. It was present in almost every dish! This popularity of sugar could be traced to many famous dishes of Italy like ravioli. Many other countries & cultures also used sugar extensively as a spice in their dishes. Examples of some countries are Valencia, Arab, etc.
Sugar was not only treated as a spice but was also treated as a medicine by the people of England. In the twelfth century, there was widespread use of sugar as medicine in England. This might have happened because sugar was used to make various syrups by infusing them with various herbs & plant parts, which then were used as medicine. Sugar was used for almost every ailment present on the face of the earth starting from cough, fever, stomach-related ailments, chapped lips, etc. The popularity of sugar as medicine continued to grow up till the 15th century. From the 16th century, the validity of sugar as medicine was questioned.
It is only further proved; how interconnected sugar is with human lives. It has been a lot of things over the years, starting from a spice, to medicine & now a sweetener.
In this article, it could be safely concluded that sugar is not a spice anymore. It was once a spice but now it is nothing more than a sweetener that makes every sweet dish taste delicious. It is fascinating to know how a small question like, “Is sugar a spice” can give us a glimpse of the past. It is almost an amazing thing how far humans have come. There had been many things along the way that humans have left behind but things like sugar help them acknowledge the wonderful journey up till now. Even though nowadays, there are many debates about sugar being bad for the health, it will probably be a part of human lives as long as humans exist!