Touching the heart
A long lazy lunch with loved ones is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
That’s what Dim Sum is all about.
Literally translated, dim means “point” and sum means “heart.”
When joined together, the meaning of dim sum becomes “to touch the heart” or “touching the heart.”
The term originally referred to a Cantonese-style steamed dumpling but is used more widely nowadays to describe different steamed, baked or fried dishes shared between people anytime between breakfast and mid afternoon.
Rather charmingly, Dim Sum is therefore the name given to the food eaten during an experience of collective enjoyment and togetherness that does, in fact, touch the heart.
The Guangdong province in southern China – formerly known as Canton – is renowned for its good food and is where Dim Sum is thought to have originated.
The custom grew from the much older tradition of yum cha -– or tea drinking – dating back thousands of years to the travellers on the ancient Silk Road who needed a place to rest and replenish their energy.
Teahouses sprung up along the road to cater to these weary travellers and when it was later discovered tea helped with the digestion of food, snacks were served.
Whereas yum cha was initially about relaxation and nourishment, as the years passed the act of drinking tea and sharing food became a louder and happier dining experience.
Today in Hong Kong and other cities and towns across Guangdong, many restaurants start serving dim sum as early as five in the morning.
It’s common practice for the elderly to gather for morning exercise and then eat dim sum together afterwards.
For the rest of the working population, yum cha and dim sum are enjoyed as a weekend treat; an opportunity to get together as a family or with friends to connect and catch up.
In Brighton and Hove it’s possible to eat dim sum at Gars on Prince Albert Street and at both China Garden and China China on Preston Street. As is customary, dim sum is only available during the daytime during the week and also at weekends.
During a typical dim sum meal, one usually starts with lighter dishes like different kinds of dumplings, steamed buns with barbecued pork (cha siu baau) and rice noodle rolls (cheong fun) filled with combinations of beef, chicken, pork, prawns and/or vegetables.
After the lighter dishes, one then moves on to heavier dishes, such as fried, baked or roasted vegetables and meats, congee porridge or various soups. To finish, one can then have sweet dim sum for dessert such as steamed buns with fillings or an egg tart.
Gars Chinese Restaurant in Brighton
All the above Dim Sum photography has been provided by Gars Chinese restaurant in Brighton’s historic Lanes. Gars serves a modern take on Dim Sum daily from 12-5pm.