Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

As you know my husband and I live in Shanghai, China. Before we came I worried about the language, culture shock and all things foreign. It was on the other side of the world from where home was and all that is familiar. To our surprise Shanghai is very modern, many western people  live here, and western items and cultures have a place here. Since this is our 3rd year here less and less is foreign and more everyday life. There are always a few things that still catch our eye and make us say ‘shaw-ma’? (what?) and do a double take. When I thought about this post I wondered what could I show you that was different from what I have talked about before and something that was still a little new to me. What could be rare and maybe not in other places in the world, or made it (or was common) to North America?

I decided to show you Hot Pot. What is that you ask? Well it is a way of cooking and eating… a very social and communal way to eat a meal. I was first introduced to it last spring and I was hooked. A large pot of broth is brought to the table and there are many flavours to choose from like your standard beef and chicken broth, but also more unusual like mushroom and fruit. Once you pick your simmering broth you pick what you would like to eat… the choices include a variety of meats, seafood, vegetables and noodles. The water comes to a boil and you place your thinly sliced items in the pot until they are cooked. A selection of sauces, spices and oils are spread out in a smorgesbourg bar style fashion. You pick the ones you like and after your food cooks you add it to the small bowl of sauce and eat it. The food cooks within in minutes. Large plates come to the table so everyone can share and cook what they want. Some hot-pot places do individual pots, but most hold 1 large communal table pot for everyone to use.

individual hot-pot and all the trimmings

As us westerners are still getting the hang of chopsticks slippery food often falls back in or gets lost. Fishing around for it with two thin sticks cause some giggles and fun as everyone may dive in and help you find your missing morsels. A few weeks ago one of the coordinators from school hosted a hot-pot and invited everyone from work to go since this is a rarity and unknown in so many other places. This particular restaurant in Shanghai has been voted number one. Its popularity is easy to see as the waiting area was crammed with people and a line up was out the door. Thank goodness we had a reservation.  To entertain the waiting crowds origami, games, shoe polishers and manicures await to help you pass the time. I even think there was massages available! Can you imagine going to your local restaurant and instead of having a few drinks at the bar you were pampered as you passed the time?

Hong Kong Style Hot Pot with ‘chimney’ in the centre

Amazing… some foreign things do not have to be strange or bizarre, but amazing and getting out of our home countries and experiencing things make life more interesting and exciting. What foreign custom would you like to adopt?

One last plug for the Canadian Blog Awards… they close Nov. 1st. I would appreciate your vote for best expat/travel blog… you can do that here. Thanks and figers crossed I move onto round 2!

If you would like to participate in this weeks photo challenge or see more things foreign check out WordPress.

Stay tuned… there is always more!

Categories: Chinese Adventures, Culture, Photography, post a week, teaching overseas, travel, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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26 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign

  1. That looks like an amazing meal, and fun too!

  2. How unusual, thanks for sharing!

  3. I love hot pot. My brother-in-law used to include it in his restaurant menu. He is half Chinese. We had a lot of fun making the hot pot and see it cook before our eyes. It took me more than two years to adjust in America. It was totally foreign to me coming from a tropical country. Good thing I was fluent in English but some how the culture is different from what I was used too but now I do appreciate its positive side and for now, it is home. Great post.

    • Yes, you feel a little bit like a fish out of water… the same phrases, references etc. don’t mean the same thing, or are lost in translation. Our collective memories from a culture make you fit it and understand a little bit more… in a new country that doesn’t happen. It takes time. Glad you feel at home in your adopted country. In China the language is also tricky… I know only a few words since I work in an English environment and I don’t need to know the language.
      Hot Pot is amazing isn’t it!

  4. Freda Goulet

    The Hot Pot idea of eating is definitely foreign to most of us….it looks like fun and reminded me of our much smaller version, Fondue Parties , back in the 70s. Great blog , Diana.

    • Ha ha… someone else said that the night we all went to Hot Pot… that was the closest thing we had to Hot Pot! Great minds think alike 🙂

  5. What a fun way to eat!

    • And deleicious too 🙂 Seasme sauce is my favourite.

    • Hi Marianne. My husband’s step mom is heading to Malaga in a few weeks for the Budwig Cancer Clinic. Have you heard much about it? Thought I may ask since she only knows what she has read on the internet and I thought of asking you… in case you know something about it. Thanks

      • Hi Diana – whilst I have heard about the Budwig Diet, I had no idea they had a clinic in Málaga. I´ve included some links here, but I´m sure your relative already knows plenty about it.



        I would be very interested to learn how she gets on, and wish her well.

        • Thanks Marianne. I am sure this will help her. I know she also said she has tried some recipies etc. It has taken a year of telling the doctor about pains and then in September he finally ran tests! She just found out a week or 2 ago and now it is to the point of urgency. We are hoping it goes well. She said she is a fighter and doesn’t want pity only prayers. Thanks again for your help.

  6. This looks like a fun and delicious meal idea. 😉

    • It is really cool. Each bite can have a different flavour too depending on what sauce you pick… sesame is my favourite. I also like the red hot peppers for extra kick 😉

  7. This sounds perfect for a group so everyone can share! It really sounds like fun 🙂

    • It is fun… Something I have noticed here people still have a sense of community even in a big city. There is a lot of competition mind you with over a billion in population! It is nice to see people out gaterhing in the central courtyard of our building chatting, dancing and kids playing instead of like in the West where we are inside behind our computers and TVs 😉

  8. this looks like so much fun and so yummy…much better than those scorpions you posted once

  9. Pingback: Weekly Photo Challenge: Foreign #2 « Canadiantravelbugs's Blog

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