Sweet Treats around the World

An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture

by Timothy G. Roufs and Kathleen Smyth Roufs


Human beings are hardwired to enjoy sweets.

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Cover image for Sweet Treats around the World

July 2014


Pages 623
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Geography and World Cultures/Culture

From apple pie to baklava, cannoli to gulab jamun, sweet treats have universal appeal in countries around the world. This encyclopedia provides a comprehensive look at global dessert culture.

Few things represent a culture as well as food. Because sweets are universal foods, they are the perfect basis for a comparative study of the intersection of history, geography, social class, religion, politics, and other key aspects of life. With that in mind, this encyclopedia surveys nearly 100 countries, examining their characteristic sweet treats from an anthropological perspective. It offers historical context on what sweets are popular where and why and emphasizes the cross-cultural insights those sweets present.

The reference opens with an overview of general trends in desserts and sweet treats. Entries organized by country and region describe cultural attributes of local desserts, how and when sweets are enjoyed, and any ingredients that are iconic. Several popular desserts are discussed within each entry including information on their history, their importance, and regional/cultural variations on preparation. An appendix of recipes provides instructions on how to make many of the dishes, whether for school projects or general entertaining.


  • Discusses iconic desserts and sweet treats in their cultural and historical contexts in North and Latin America; the Caribbean; Europe; North Africa and the Middle East; Sub-Saharan Africa; Central, South, and East Asia; and the Pacific
  • Feeds into the World Geography database and allows students of geography, social studies, language, and anthropology to examine cultural trends and make cross-cultural connections
  • Looks at regional desserts across the United States
  • Includes a selection of contributed family recipes from around the world to provide hands-on learning
  • Features sidebars of interesting, fun facts and anecdotes relating to desserts and sweet treats
Author Info

Timothy G. Roufs, PhD, is professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota Duluth. His published works include The Anishinabe of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and numerous articles on American Indian life in the Upper Midwest. Roufs teaches a course on the popular anthropology of food and is known as a pioneer in online education. His other works include a three-volume study of the biography of an Anishinabe traditional medicine doctor. Roufs holds a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Minnesota.

Kathleen Smyth Roufs, EdD, is director emeritus of the Advisement Coordination Center at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Her published works include papers on hearing loss in higher education faculty members and on applied theory in academic advising. Roufs holds a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Minnesota.



"Though a plethora of international cookbooks focuses on sweets, this encyclopedia stands out as a workhorse, suitable for both study and practical application with its compilation of vast resources along with representative recipes. . . . Summing Up: Recommended. All audiences."—Choice

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