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Giving hot pot another chance

Popularity 2Viewed 1605 times 2014-3-31 18:18 |Personal category:Chongqing life|System category:Life| another

On Friday night I had hot pot for the first time in months.  I've not really been a fan of hot pot, in fact I confess to having eaten Chongqing's favourite and most famous dish fewer than ten times during my time in the mountain city.  The hot pot that I enjoyed with my colleagues Matt, Barry and Charlie was so tasty and such an enjoyable occasion that I feel guilty for neglecting it for so long.

Good food always tastes better after sport.  On Friday I had a cracking few games of badminton with Matt, they were quite different to the games we played the week before.  Last week our games had featured high-powered smashes and drives whereas last Friday we played a lot more drop shots and net shots.  Sport is the best way to finish off a week of teaching and a hearty meal afterwards is even better.

The hot pot restaurant Barry took us to was a place he'd been to a couple of times before.  Someone working there had stopped him in the street one time to say hi and they'd had a friendly chat together.  Consequently, he has become a loyal customer.  The place is typical of hot pot restaurants across the city, although this one does have large pictures of Chairman Mao on the walls which makes it a bit distinctive.  We ordered a decent amount of food to cook in our cauldron of spicy soup: potatoes, pumpkin, cucumber, tomatoes, quail's eggs, slices of beef and lamb, a fish head and a pig brain.  We also followed the Chongqing tradition of doing rounds of toasts to each other.

Red in the face, tears streaming down your cheeks, sweat pouring from your brow and your mouth numbed with the pain of the spice: looking attractive whilst eating hot pot is a challenge.  The quail's eggs are something that I'd never tried before, Matt and Barry recommended them, and they really were very tasty.  I've had brain several times in hot pot, it sounds a bit disgusting but I'd really recommend you try it if you have the chance.  It has a soft, silky, melt-in-the-mouth tofu-like texture.  It's also excellent when you have it at street barbecue (烧烤 – shaokao).  Pumpkin is something I never really ate prior to coming to China but now it's become one of my favourite vegetables.  It's great in hot pot and I look forward to when it's served in my school canteen, I always ladle huge amounts of it on to my tray.

I'm really glad I gave hot pot another chance.  Sometimes you just have a particular moment where the food you eat and the people who you are with just fit together perfectly.  Last Friday was one of these times.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


Passing

Eggs

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Shake hands

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Reply Report voice_cd 2014-4-1 09:28
Thanks for sharing your story here, we have highlighted your blog.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-4-1 09:42
I imagine that the Chongqing hotspot us similar to the Chengdu hotpot that I have tried a bit in visits there. Thus a big pot that several people's food is cooked in but often with some metal dividers so one part of the pot can have spicier liquid and another a bit less spicy?  That contrasts with my experience of Xi'an hotpot where everybody has their own small pot and selects their own taste level in it. Both good!
Reply Report thomas.wood 2014-4-1 10:11
ColinSpeakman: I imagine that the Chongqing hotspot us similar to the Chengdu hotpot that I have tried a bit in visits there. Thus a big pot that several people's fo ...
Chongqing people will insist that hot pot is a pure Chongqing dish and Chengdu people are thieves for taking it and claiming it as their own.  There's a good rivalry between the two cities, just like Manchester and Liverpool and Yorkshire and Lancashire!  The split hot pot and the individual hot pots are variants and they're both pretty good.
Reply Report ColinSpeakman 2014-4-1 13:28
thomas.wood: Chongqing people will insist that hot pot is a pure Chongqing dish and Chengdu people are thieves for taking it and claiming it as their own.  There's ...
I suppose that this goes back to the days when Chongqing was a part of Sichuan Province before getting its own Municipality status. So who then got Sichuan hotpot if Chongqing was no longer Sichuan? Enter Chengdu!  

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