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About 20 years ago my wife and I were poor, and we went on a very cheap coach trip to Hungary for a holiday. The hotel meals always finished with a rather uninteresting savoury dessert.

I researched the matter and found that there is a tradition of savoury desserts in Hungary, a lot of which are much more interesting than the ones which we got in the hotel. But when I look outside of Hungary, all I see are "cheese / pate and crackers" style dishes to follow the main dish, and not much else.

So what I am seeking is other nations with a tradition of savoury desserts - savoury dishes used to end a meal. which are nothing to do with crackers or Hungary.

All offers considered ...

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How can you tell it's a dessert if it's savory? Just because it is the dish served last? –  Sobachatina May 27 '11 at 13:48
    
Because I have a Hungarian cookbook somewhere that calls it that - the book which has the interesting savoury dessert recipes. Does such a dish have another name in Hungary? –  klypos May 28 '11 at 2:59

4 Answers 4

up vote 3 down vote accepted

In the big French meals, the sweet dessert is sometimes followed by the cheese course which is naturally savoury.

Also, in China, in big meals, a clear simple soup is served at the end of a meal. This is, I am told, to clear the pallette. My experience is Yunnan and Szechuan, and it may not be the same in all of China.

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In France the cheese comes before the sweet, so that the red wine from the main course is used up! Sweet then cheese is an English excuse to open another bottle! Thanks for the China info. –  klypos May 28 '11 at 2:47

I recently heard on a NOVA show about the ancient Roman fish sauce called "garum", made from fermented (or rotting!) fish, along with other ingredients. It was very popular served over many dishes, including desserts, as it enhanced flavor similarly to MSG, only probably better for you. Here is a link to a pear dessert recipe using Garum.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/lostempires/roman/patina.html

I do love just a little coarse saltiness on things like caramels, or ginger cookies. Our family has a recipe for just such a cookie using cardamon salt - wonderful! ( I am also a great fan of Marmite - could probably find a way to use a smudge of it on an intensely dark chocolate brownie.

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I was told at school that garum was made similarly to Worcester Sauce - another way to ferment anchovies - but please remember I'm looking for a tradition. Marmite has been the subject of much controversy in Denmark this week - euronews.net/2011/05/27/danish-marmite-ban-the-plot-thickens –  klypos May 28 '11 at 2:51

I wouldn't think of it as a dessert, just another course in a multi-course meal. You tend to wind up to the main courses, and then wind down again. Finishing a meal in a climatic way does not seem to work with the idea of relaxing and conversing over good food

The wind down is in portion size, extremities of flavour and/or spice. but not necessarily in visuals, aroma, or production complexity

Pate and cheeses fit in well with this, and hence their popularity

Some other items are:

  • Bilini? - a large crepe, parcelled with fresh sweet(ish) pickles and a little small game compote (or sour cheeses) - Jewish Russian
  • Spekkoek (Bacon Cake) is not made from bacon, and while sweet, often has savoury spice flavours - Dutch
  • Bacon and chocolate fingers - nice strips of bacon, grilled crisp, and drizzled with 75%+ cocoa chocolate - Recent American/English based on Mexican smoked meats and mole
  • Fruit salad - with balsamic vinegar and/or chilli dressing - Indonesia, Asia
  • Yam cake - cake made with yams, bacon, shrimp, onions, and chilli - China
  • Pengat Pisang - banana, sweet potato, coconut, and spices - Malaysian, Asian
  • Yorkshire pudding - effectively deep fried bread or batter - English (pre-dinner in Yorkshire though)
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As a genuine Yorkshireman, I can assure you that Yorkshire pudding is traditionally a STARTER - the idea being to "fill up" the guests with something cheap, before passing on to the meat course! And it is not deep fried, or bread - it is made in the oven. I don't think chocolate bacon is very traditional, although it might have been invented by an Englishman ... –  klypos May 27 '11 at 14:13
    
We have English Yorkshire pudding as a after the main meal snack to fill up those whom are still hungry. So English origin, but antipodean usage. Why the -1? –  TFD May 27 '11 at 21:57
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-1 Wasn't me! Antipodean practice must be accepted because usage can be inverted down under, but why not go for upside down cake?! –  klypos May 28 '11 at 2:44
    
@klypos It gets worse, I have seen people fill the pud's with left over gravy –  TFD May 28 '11 at 5:18
    
gravy is obligatory with Yorkshire puds - it should be heavy duty onion gravy! they are boring without a filling. A lot of places around here sell a large Yorkshire pud as a main course, filled with meat/chicken stew, or sausages and lots of onion gravy (Toad In The Hole with the hole as an afterthought). –  klypos Jun 4 '11 at 3:07

English cuisine has this tradition. In old-fashioned settings like Oxbridge colleges, a meal might consist of soup, then fish course, then meat course, then sweet, then a small savoury, then fruit and cheese and wine, then chocolates and coffee. The savoury is meant to be small and strongly flavoured, to re-stimulate your appetite in case you've become full by that stage of the meal.

Typical ingredients for savouries: mustard sauce, bacon, anchovies, scrambled eggs, capers, pickled walnuts, oysters. For example, scramble eggs, put on a rectangle of toast, garnish with a cross of anchovies and dot with four capers. Or wrap a pickled walnut in thinly sliced bacon, fry briefly, place on a small round of toast spread with mustard.

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