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Well-known Chinese author
Shen Hongfei

"Dim sum" is an ancient Chinese culinary tradition whose origin dates to the Tang Dynasty. While there are differences in the dim sum traditions of northern and southern China, it was in the south that dim sum flourished and really became a culture of its own.

What is known as the "dim sum culture" originally refers to "one pot two pieces"; a small pot of Chinese tea accompanied with a couple of pieces of bite-size Chinese snacks. As a snack, dim sum has gained popularity over many of the main meal Chinese dishes due to centuries of innovations by southern Chinese chefs in the dim sum dishes' varieties and content. In particular, with the Cantonese' emphasis on developing greater varieties in dim sum dishes and what goes inside them, it became possible, if not encouraged, for dim sum culture to incorporate local differences. Such flexibility and compatibility with local styles is what allowed dim sum to flourish in Southern China and eventually worldwide acceptance.

Historically, the popularization of dim sum around the world was made possible by the proliferation of domestic and international trade throughout the centuries. While growth in trade between northern and southern China helped spread northern style, flour-based dim sum dishes (noodles, steamed buns, steamed buns with meat and soup, wanton, dumpling with shrimp and pork etc) to the south, it was southern China's historic role as the nation's gateway to the rest of the world that enabled the development of a new kind of dim sum tradition which was destined to be popular in the rest of the world. In fact, throughout the centuries, Cantonese chefs have synthesized northern Chinese influences with southern local varieties and developed more than 4,000 dim sum dishes. Such dishes, that are neither northern nor southern, neither Chinese nor western, have become the soul of dim sum culture's uniquely passionate and melting-pot character

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