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Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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China. Chinese food encompasses a wealth of sweet dishes and sweet snacks, but no dessert course is served at the end of a typical meal, and the conceptual boundary between sweet and savory foods is much less strict than it is in Western cultures. Most meals in most parts of the country consist solely of savory dishes, and if a separate course is served at the end of a repast, it will normally be fresh fruit, either whole or, on more formal occasions, cut into elegant pieces. Sweetness is just one of the traditional “five flavors” (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and pungent) that must be combined harmoniously in a meal, in no predetermined order. Cookery books, with occasional exceptions, tend not to include sections on desserts or sweet dishes: sweet foods are normally subsumed into other categories, such as dian xin (otherwise known as “dim sum”: dainty snacks or refreshments that are eaten between meals), or cold appetizers.