My blog cannot be complete unless I have at least one post on the marvel called HotPot. The chef in me cannot think of a better food preparation given that we're not even talking about food that is actually prepared when it is served.
The HotPot meal comprises of a simmering broth on your table (either individual or community), and raw or semi-cooked food being circulated all around. The intent is to pick up your food, and cook it on the table itself. Additional condiments/sauces can be ordered to further customize your food to your taste.
For those of you who have ever encountered one true love in live, the HotPot is pretty much like one..... it demands 100% of you at the table and then demands more. Distractions can be disastrous, social conversations totally unnecessary, any sneaking eye on a neighbouring 'mistress' pot strongly discouraged. In a respectable HotPot environment, a HotPotter and his HotPot meld together into one single entity, with creation and consumption happening in one single continuum - in a natural flow that can only be described as incredibly beautiful. If you pamper your food, it returns the favour by delighting your senses; if you tease your food, it plays to your charms and acquires a different mood; if you ignore your food, you end up with pasty muck in your mouth! Every morsel is customized... every bite is different...
I can almost hear my mom yelling...'don't play with your food'... what would she say of a food style that begs to be played with? What is designed to be played with?!
There are one or two folks from China I'm going to miss tremendously... but other than that, HotPot is what I'm going to miss the most. We have nothing like this in India and I can't imagine which Indian preparation could potentially be HotPotized. Medhu vada or idli in a pot of sambhar..!! Nah!! Not even close!
Needless to say my HotPot fascination wasn't really shared by everyone and I couldn't really get my fill of this divine meal type (it's not really a solo meal exactly). Two of the most memorable HotPot meals were:
Dry HotPot date with Emily: Sort of pre-cooked and more open to social conversations over the meal.
Conveyor HotPot date with Andrea: Food flying by on a conveyor belt...requires immense concentration to grab your food and cook it. Amazing!