Humans like different flavors in their foods. Therefore, we have both sweet and savory foods. What is the difference between sweet and savory? The most basic definition is that sweet food has the flavor or taste of sugar or honey, while savory food is not sweet, but rather full-flavored and sometimes spicy.
Sweet and savory foods often complement each other at a dinner. A salad may have savory cheese and bacon bits, but may also include sweet fruit such as apples or strawberries. Sweet and savory foods can often be combined to produce complex flavors, as well.
Many people think of sweet and savory foods as two separate categories, and sometimes they are. Savory food is often categorized as anything not inherently sweet. Meat, for instance, is usually savory. Vegetables, in general, are also savory. Snack foods, finger foods and hors d’oeuvres are most often savory, too. Foods prepared with a minimum of sugar and with no focus on a sugary taste are considered savory. Also, a fragrant herb called savory can be used to flavor meats and meat sauces.
Sweet, the other half of the sweet and savory duo, is produced by sugar. This may come from the natural sugar in fruit, or it may take the form of chocolate or other candy flavors. Most people have an affinity for all things sweet, and all have their personal preferences. Some prefer fruit-flavored sweets, some chocolate, some vanilla, some caramel, and some will not be happy with anything other than a peanut butter flavor. As with savory foods, sweet tastes may be paired together. For instance, chocolate and orange or raspberry are often used together, or chocolate and peanut butter or butterscotch.
Nuts are the bridge between sweet and savory. They can be coated in sugar or toasted in butter and used in sweet foods like cookies or brownies. They can also be roasted with salt and garlic and eaten out of hand, lightly toasted to top a savory dip or thrown into an Asian stir-fry.
Sweet and savory flavors often go together in the same dish. Pork roast may have a glazed apple topping. Asian dishes often have sweet sauces, but are also flavored with garlic and onions. Glazed carrots blend sweet and savory flavors, as does sweet corn cooked with salt and pepper. Sweet pineapple is a popular topping, along with ham, for pizza with a Hawaiian flair.
It is sometimes difficult to make a distinction between sweet and savory. Both work together and separately and allow cooks to give food maximum flavor and appeal.