By Andreas Schwarzer
By Andreas Schwarzer
Andreas Schwarzer toots the horn for fruity desserts.
On a restaurant menu plated desserts are listed last, of course, because they come after all the other courses. But, in dining rooms throughout the world, desserts are not considered less important because of it.
Originally, desserts were prepared by patissiers in hotels and restaurants. Today, they tend to be referred to as cooks and pastry cooks. The question we have to ask ourselves is why do we eat desserts? What is the purpose of having a dessert at the end of a meal?
Everyone has a different outlook on what desserts should consist of and many restaurants forget the main purpose of offering them on their menu. Their purpose is to help digest the meal, especially a rather heavy one; if you want to offer desserts which do, they should be comprised of fruit, which contain high levels of enzymes. Enzymes are proteins made from amino acids. An enzyme is formed by stringing together up to 1000 amino acids in a very specific order, which forms a unique shape. That shape allows the enzyme to conduct specific chemical reactions, acting as a catalyst. Which means if you had a heavy meal and are feeling overly full, a dessert with fruit is the perfect answer to help speed up the chemical reaction of digestion.
Opinions vary throughout the world on what a proper dessert really is. In the United States, for example, dessert is likely to consist of pastry, cake, ice cream, pudding, or fresh or cooked fruit. The British traditionally end their meals with nuts, fruit, and port or another dessert wine, while the French tradition is to have fruit, cheese, and wine. If the French and British were to have a more elaborate meal, it would include a sweet course preceding the dessert offerings. In Canada, we experience a combination of American, French and British cuisine. Quite the experience! Over the years, we’ve seen dessert trends come and go, but there are favourites such as cheesecake and chocolate mousse that never go out of style.
In a restaurant, when a nice meal is put before you (sometimes one that is quite heavy), it’s hard to resist overeating. The result of this, more often than not, is a feeling of being uncomfortable or even stomach pains. Offering your customers light and fresh desserts with fruit can help to relieve that uncomfortable feeling. Most fruit functions as a natural laxative, which helps to regulate your body’s digestive process.
A look at a few flavourful and well-loved fruit reveals how each can assist the body as it digests food.
Pineapples contain bromelin, which is a potent digestive enzyme, very similar to the acids found in our stomachs. A good, juicy ripe pineapple can satisfy a sweet craving as well as any chocolate bar. In addition to being a delicious food, pineapple provides many health benefits. Kiwi fruit is another great source of digestive enzymes. Papayas are excellent for aiding digestion; they also soothe intestinal inflammation and gas. The flesh of the mature green papaya is very high in papain (an enzyme that is used in a dried form to tenderize meat). Papaya may be used to assist digestion, thereby relieving pressure from the pancreas. It is reported that the enzymes in papaya are able to digest undigested debris in the intestinal tract. Mangoes fight acidity and poor digestion. They also offer help in fighting germs or infections. Bananas work as a mild laxative and contain pectin, which brings such benefits as lowering cholesterol and removing toxic metals from the body. They also coat the stomach, neutralizing the acidity of gastric juices.
Add fruity desserts to your menu and remind your customers why fruit in any form is the perfect way to end their meal. Tell them their stomachs (and tastebuds) will thank them!
Below is one of my favourite desserts, a concoction which includes pineapple, fresh ginger, papaya, banana, kiwi, homemade banana sherbet and a dried out banana leaf. In my opinion, this dessert is the perfect last course of any meal.