Suzhou Boat Dessert is a part of the sumptuous Wu banquets that used to be served on traveling boats in Suzhou during the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Sozhou was known as the "Oriental Venice" due to the rivers and the water canals in the city. Since the boats were the chief means of transportation within Sozhou, boats of all descriptions such as large flat-bottomed junk, lightship, fast boat, touring boat, variety-show boat, etc. used to be plying through the Sozhou city waters. Many of these boats were equipped with kitchens.
Local businessmen, used to take advantage of the exotic surroundings provided by the boats and entertain the businessmen from Wu area by giving banquets on boats. This practice resulted in the boat dishes becoming more and more sumptuous. The Wu banquets, as they came to be called, used to serve cold dish for drinking followed by fried dishes. The dessert used to follow the last big dish made of fish. The cooks knew the psychology of the diners and so the desserts used to be small and exquisite like ornaments on the elaborate feast; the desserts used to be beautiful to look at and delicious in taste. These desserts served on the Sozhou boat banquets had earned fame in their own right as Suzhou Boat Dessert.