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!