If you ask for cheesecake after dinner at a Chinese restaurant, you don’t really know about the Asian diet.
I am sorry to break it to you, but most Chinese restaurants don’t serve dessert.
Why not? Well, before I answer that question, I would like to know why Westerners always have room for dessert.
The other night, I went out for dinner with an American friend. After having a big bowl of Caesar salad, mashed potatoes, and pan-fried chicken the size of my head with lemon sauce, I was so full that I almost died.
At that very moment, my friend asked, "What would you like for dessert? Cheesecake or a brownie?"
I looked at her slim figure and wondered how she could have room for dessert after the heavy main course.
"Maybe Asians have a relatively smaller stomach," I thought.
The physiological explanation is: Our stomach is a flexible organ.
"If you eat slowly and chew the food well, it is easier for your stomach to digest it, and you can have dessert," she said.
I don’t know when this Western tradition began. But the trend of having a dessert after dinner is declining. More and more people are cutting it out to become healthier and stay fit. The one-dish meal is on its way back.
Let’s get back to the question of why most Chinese people do not have a habit of having dessert after dinner. Well, sweets are considered snacks in China. Chinese people don’t eat it after dinner.
Quite the opposite, sometimes Chinese people eat sweets before dinner. I remember I was not allowed to have sweets before dinner when I was little. My parents knew that if I did, I would not have room for dinner.
Moreover, the Chinese diet values wellness. Many Chinese people believe food is medicine. Thus, if people want to stay healthy, they keep away from sweets.
As for those who crave the sweet stuff, they can go to special dessert places.
These shops are very popular in Hong Kong and Macao where desserts like black sesame ice cream, sweet red bean soup, and tofu pudding are great bedtime snacks. They are open until very late in the evening.
It remains a mystery to me how the locals stay so slim.
"Wait. Chinese people do eat dessert - the fruit plate," my friend reminded me.
Yes, Chinese people don’t usually order dessert, but restaurants do serve fruit platters, mostly comprising fruits that are in-season, such as watermelons, tomatoes, apples and oranges. I love it. I feel like those fruit slices are light and fresh after a heavy meal.
Scientists claim that you can use willpower to stop craving sweets. The secret is to eat with mindfulness. They suggest focusing on the food you eat and how full you become, which over time can reduce your desire for dessert.
Does it really work? You tell me.