Giving and eating sweets and desserts are a big part of Chinese culture because they symbolize a sweeter life. It is common to end an every day meal with fruit. Candies, cakes and oranges are common gifts to give a family who has invited you over for a meal. Sweets are everywhere during big celebrations like Chinese New Year, because they symbolize a sweeter life in the new year.
Since “gaining face” is important in Chinese culture, always serve or give others sweets that are highly regarded. You want the person to be impressed with your sweet. If you are making a sweet, make your best tasting and use the best ingredients. My mom does not like to bake but people always ask for her mini pecan tarts. Everything from the crust to the filling is made from scratch, name brand ingredients are always used, and she hand-crushes the pecans. If you buy a sweet, the criteria to follow is name brand, high value, and delicious taste. Whether you make or buy the sweet, try to always choose something the person will enjoy. My father-in-law loves desserts with fruit. When I am in NYC and he is babysitting the girls, I always try to pick up a piece of Junior’s cheesecake with strawberries on top in Grand Central because he really likes it.
Examples of good sweets to give are a large box of Godiva chocolates, a signature pie, cake, pastry from a well regarded bakery, or if you were my mom, homemade mini pecan tarts. The packaging of the sweet is just as important as the actual sweet. You want the first impression of the gift to be a preview of what is inside. The first impression of a broken box inside of a ripped bag is not one you want to have for your award winning chocolate cake.
Cheers to a Sweeter Life,
The Dumpling Mama xo