The unique culinary art of dim sum means "dot-hearts", small treats that touch the heart, and originated in China hundreds of years ago. It is said to have started along the Silk Road where farmers, laborers and travelers often stopped at roadside teahouses to have afternoon tea, regain sustenance and relax, an olden days version of the local neighborhood bar At first, it was considered inappropriate to combine tea with food, because people believed that this would lead to excessive weight gain. However, the Cantonese in southern China later discovered that tea can aid in digestion, so they turned the quiet and unexciting teahouse into a loud and lively eating experience, which is also how the term "yum cha" literally means "drinking tea" became synonymous with consuming dim sum. Since the 10th century, about 2000 different varieties of dim sum have been created, with up to 100 kinds offered on any given day in the larger restaurants.
To many Chinese people, going to yum cha and having dim sum is a weekly food event for gathering family and friends. Almost each Sunday morning, my family and relatives would meet at a perennially crowded teahouse for hours of eating and sharing conversation. Dim sum teahouse are ideal for such social gatherings, while the atmosphere is relaxed, the little snack sized pieces can be eaten in any order and there are so may dishes that kids, adults and seniors can all find what they like. Since most of the little dishes have either three or four servings per plate, so that everyone can try one piece and people can double up on a dish if it is needed. Dim sum, as with any other Chinese meal, is shared among all who are dining together, so family and friends can all share their like or dislike dishes with each other. Through this sharing process of both foods and conversations, people can extend their social network. Also sitting in a round table can also enhance closeness of family members or friends, and reinforce the sense of...
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