Boiled Over

“They was a-splishing and a-splashing, reelin’ with the feelin’! Moving and a-grooving, rocking and a-rolling, yeah!”

Just like this Bobby Darin song, my friends and I were causing a ruckus at the local hot pot restaurant before our night at the local pub on St. Patrick’s Day. It wasn’t because there was an excess of beer being served. It was mainly due to our slippery food choices with our (at least my) amateur chopstick skills. Carrots, lotus root, and tofu skin slipped into the boiling pot. Then thinly slices beef and pork hopped into the steaming pot as well. Before we knew it, we were “a-splishing and a-splashing” and enjoying a traditional Chinese feast.

Just like I wrote about the art of slurping noodles earlier in the year, there is definitely an art to being “boiled over” with the hot pot dinner. The art of enjoying a great hot pot dinner has been around for at least 1,000 years. It has been said that it started in Mongolia where the the soldiers used their helmets as cooking utensils and boiled soups in the metal container. If you are ever invited to experience a hot pot dinner, please say “yes!” The metal helmet has morphed into a contemporary large metal bowl, which sits in the middle of the dining table underneath a built-in gas burner. The menu is extensive with never-ending lists of meat and veggies, which will satisfy any appetite.

About ten minutes after we ordered our food, the large vat of our hot pot soup came out. We chose the option that looked like the ying-yang sign, where half of the bowl is a cooling soup made up of cucumbers and tomatoes, and the other half is a volcanic red color, which was already warning us that it would spicier than a Sicilian with a hot temper on a summer day. Our waitress was a short woman with cropped hair and thick black glasses that surpassed her brow line. She shuffled her way toward our table with a tea pot full of green tea and a plastic bucket of the greens. Once all of our food was served, it was time to start the process of ever so neatly placing the raw items into the bowl. The fun thing about hot pot is that most of your food is cooked instantly. With the other items that take a little bit longer to cook (potatoes, carrots, lotus root, etc), it gives you a chance to just sit back and socialize with your friends. It is a dinner that indirectly forces you to sit back and relax while your food cooks and shimmers.

“Ever so neatly” may not be the best words to describe how we placed our food into the boiling soup. The other parties around us were having no problems slipping rice noodles and leafs of lettuce into the bowl. Maybe we were just extremely hungry at the time to not really care how delicately our pork was plopped into the bowl. Splashes of volcanic red soup lashed out at us and jumped out of the bowl. You know how there are so-called rules for dating? One of which is to never order spaghetti on the first date. Well, I’m just guessing, but I think the equivalent to a slurping spaghetti date would be a splashing hot pot date. Making the great first impression with boiling soup spraying on the table and on your face would be quite difficult, but it does make a tasty and quite memorable meal!

Until next time.

Peace, love, and happiness.