I have a good friend who is from Hong Kong, and like me married a Norwegian man and moved to Norway. We first met in our Norwegian language class nearly 10 years ago, and have been best friends ever since. We also have had a long standing tradition of taking an afternoon or evening sipping green tea and eating the innumerable assortment of small Chinese dishes called Dim Sum. The literal meaning is “to touch your heart,” dim sum consists of a variety of dumplings, steamed dishes and other mild and strong small delicacies.
Originally a Cantonese custom, dim sum is linked to the Chinese tradition of “yum cha” or drinking tea. Teahouses sprung up to accommodate travelers along the famous Silk Road. Rural farmers, exhausted after long hours working in the fields, would also head to the local teahouse for an afternoon of tea and relaxing conversation.
Today, dim sum is served throughout China. But the best dim sum in China is found in Canton, with its wide assortment of sweet and savory dishes. However as Patricia will verify the best Cantonese dim sum chefs are found not in China but in Hong Kong, where restaurants begin serving dim sum as early as 6:30 in the morning and continue through mid-afternoon. Patricia has told us about some in Hong Kong who even take their breakfast at the local Dim Sum restaurant.
My favourites are standards on a Dim Sum menu. I love the steamed pork spareribs and char siu bao, steamed buns with roast pork, and not to mention har gao, delicious shrimp dumplings.
However keeping in my theme of taking care of myself and being grateful, what I am most grateful for is the good conversation in a relaxed atmosphere between my friend and me. The waiters and waitresses at our local Dim Sum restaurant know that food is only part of the pleasure. They quietly serve dish after dish…never all at one time..no no no! And they fill your tea cup often from a personal teapot which is left on the table. They never rush you, and a dim sum meeting for Patricia and I normally takes around 3 hours. So that fast table turnover that I experienced in NY has no place here!!