Do you do dessert?

Reading the IMBB 24 "Make It In 30 Minutes" entries hosted by Too Many Chefs, it struck me that a lot of the participants were sure to include a dessert in their meal. When I was ruminating over what to make it never even entered my mind that I should make a dessert, because I'm not a dessert person.

Don't get me wrong...I love sweet things. But I rarely serve a dessert at home with everyday meals, unless it's just some fruit or a small scoop or sorbet or something. When I go out to eat, unless it's a special occasion or a special restaurant I'm perfectly happy to skip dessert.

One main reason is that after the main course, or even more an appetizer or soup plus main, I'm usually too full to really enjoy the dessert. So it's a compromise - skip the appetizer and/or have a small main, and make room for dessert, or concentrate on the savory parts of the menu. Usually, I'd much rather do the latter.

My favorite way to have a dessert is as its own course. Mid-afternoon is perfect for this. In England there's that wonderful meal called tea (though 'tea' can mean an early dinner too), and in Japan there is oyatsu, a snack usually eaten around 3pm. A piece of cake or pie, or a bombastic sundae, and a soothing cup of tea midway between lunch and dinner is my idea of pure bliss. And my favorite time to have ice cream is about 2 hours after dinner, curled up on the sofa. I'm not sure if this preference is cultural (in my mother's household, dominated by Japanese style cooking wherever we lived, we rarely had dessert after dinner), or just the way I am. And I really wish that more fine restaurants would allow us to eat just dessert at off-hours too.

Are you a dessert person? Is dessert an essential part of a meal?

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Do you do dessert?

Usually I don't remember the possibility of dessert until after finishing the main course. As this includes not thinking of it while shopping (or thinking of it and deciding I don't need it), I will then often not have anything suitable around, so I'll skip. Though recently, I have been cooking dinner at home more often, and I find myself having small desserts if I do have something suitable around (like ice cream, or a quick apple crumble made with the apples I happen to have lying around).

I've always been a savoury things person though - to the point that as a kid, I would pinch at the leftovers of the main course (especially salad) after having a sweet dessert. I like the concept of cheese for dessert as it is savoury, but it often seems too heavy, so that is only an occasional thing.

In restaurants I often have ice cream for dessert, and after a large or heavy meal I find myself with a strong preference for ice cream with ginger, if the restaurant serves it. But I am just as happy, usually, with a cup of tea after my main course.

Wynke | 30 March, 2006 - 13:00

Do you do dessert?

I am a desert person! If I had a restaurant I would offer a "reverse menu" that lets you start with desert just to make sure you've got room! (though I would often happily skip the main courses and just have 2 or 3 starters and deserts!!)... I like the idea of having off-hours desert at restaurants - now that truly would be "Happy Hour"!

I am just starting to try some Japanese cooking - tonight I'm doing Enoki mushrooms with bacon "belts" and some slow cooked shitake with noodles. I bought a lovely big hardback book for £4 ($6-7) half of which is a discussion of the ingredients and culture and the other half is a few recipes. Interestingly it mentions that deserts are a fairly recent addition to most Japanese mealtimes and restaurants, and that often the preferred choice is light sorbets/ice creams.

giles | 30 March, 2006 - 15:24

Do you do dessert?

I only eat dessert after dinner on a special occasion-- and not always then, either. I get dessert at a restaurant rarely-- if I'm in the mood for one, or if I know that the restaurant has a particularly good selection. At home, I serve dessert for guests, but not for myself on a daily basis. After dinner, I'm usually happy with some hot tea in the colder months.

yoko | 30 March, 2006 - 17:21

Do you do dessert?

I love a good dessert, but I almost never have it after dinner due to being so full. If it's a special occasion, like a birthday or something, then I will have a piece of cake. Normally, I would rather have a dessert as a snack.

However, there is this sushi place in my town that has this AMAZING fried mango ice cream and sliced bananas dessert. There, and only there, will I save room.

Karen | 30 March, 2006 - 18:18

Do you do dessert?

It's an interesting question. I always thought that for cooking that involves sugar, there is no need for dessert afterwards. After a Japanese meal, for instance, a piece of fruit will suffice. On the other hand, after a sweet and savoury North African stew, I find myself wanting something even sweeter, so "Oriental pastries" (headache-inducingly sweet) make sense, especially with mint tea. After a French meal, I usually want a digestive so dessert is anything that goes well with strong coffee, but preferably something smooth and creamy. I abhor heavy tarts and cakes after a full meal. These should be eaten as a meal in itself. Often, even if I see interesting items on the dessert menu, I end up opting for a simple sorbet. I wish restaurants with pastry chefs would offer dessert tasting menus for afternoon tea.

motoko | 30 March, 2006 - 19:43

Do you do dessert?

I do like dessert, and in a restaurant, I always ask for the dessert menu.

However, in many restaurant, that dessert menu is more a desert, full of unimaginativeness and boredom (in Switzerland, it is very often a menu provided by the ice cream supplier; in the US, it you can almost bet on the pies etc. you get offered. And in such situations, I politely decline and ask for a good Espresso (black, hot, three gulps).

If I find an interesting looking sorbet, I go for it ... and if it happens to be apple sorbet with apple pieces in Calvados, you got me ;-).

I guess choosing a sorbet is not necessarily because of it sweet, but it has its soothing effects on digestion.

About the British tea: I think many cultures have something like that; in Switzerland, it would be the Z'Vieri (the 4 o'clock snack), which is often coffee or tea and a cake or other pastries. In more rural places, cured meat or sausages and cheese and bread are served too. Another Swiss custom is also that at the times when the midday meal was the most important meal of the day, the evening meal was sweet, and thinks in the range of bread pudding got served.

max | 30 March, 2006 - 21:59

Do you do dessert?

For me dessert is something I have only when i go out.
I never have it after dinner at home.

I do like baking though, and occasionally make a batch of something in the evening to share with colleagues the next day.

At that point it is hard not to resist a taster.

But i dont see that as making dessert.

Oh no.

Yesterday was my first attempt at home made jaffa cakes and everyone at work is very impressed.

sam | 30 March, 2006 - 23:30

Do you do dessert?

Giles: Hmm...reverse menu with dessert at the start. Sounds interesting... I wonder if it would work, taste-wise? I wonder also if the restaurant would complain or refuse to serve you in that way. Has to be tried :)

Max I was surprised the first time I encountered a sweet tart (i believe it was a pear tart with custard) for dinner at a Swiss home. It just..didn't feel like a real meal, though I'm sure that calorie wise it was quite enough for a real meal.

Sam: Jaffa cakes...mmmm.

maki | 31 March, 2006 - 12:47

Do you do dessert?

We rarely have dessert at home. I don't think of eating sweets on a regular basis, at all, but sometimes we'll crave something special; most often, I just have a piece of fresh fruit or a cup of tea with honey, and that's plenty sweet for me.

Lil | 1 April, 2006 - 09:08

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