Archive for November 13th, 2005

Hot Pot

13 November 05

So what is Chinese Hot Pot? It is a dining experience. Best performed in the Winter or when out with a group of friends. It is communal dipping and eating at its finest.

First, you need a hot plate. Then, you need a big metal bowl, divided in the middle so there are two sections to the bowl. One section is filled with a spicy, peppery, hot broth, the other with a mild, stock broth. Once on the hot plate, you allow both broths to get nice and boiling. Then, you take various foods that you have requested, meat slices (usually lamb or beef), mushrooms, potato slices, spinach & other greens, carrots and other vegetables, and you dip them into the boiling broth of your choice. Some things need to cook longer, so you just slide them into the water and pull them out when they are cooked to your liking. The meat doesn’t need much time at all. The foods that go into the spicy broth come out super-spicy and hot! Have some water or beer close by for embarrassing moments of heat-induced choking. (Also for the severe mouth & tongue burns caused by overly-impatient diners attempting to eat boiling hot mushrooms, potatoes and meat..)

Here are some photos to better demonstrate:

Hot Pot Before Hot Pot After

We’ve eaten this quite a few times and it is always a lot of fun. The Chinese we have observed eating hot pot often enjoy things like fish heads in their pot. We watch in wide-eyed wonder as the still moving and twitching head is deposited into the broth. Also highly popular, although not recommended due to bird flu, are squares of congealed duck blood. To think that at one time I thought that eating octopus was weird…


Sunday Update

13 November 05

A lovely Sunday morning, and I am taking a risk by using the computer. See, for the past month, every Saturday and Sunday afternoon, the power has gone off for about 3 hours. Usually they warn us in the morning, knocking on the door to say, “Today, power out.” This morning I went into the city shopping, so I thought maybe I had missed the announcement. When 1PM came and went and the power was still on, I went to ask at the front desk. Unfortunately, today the front desk clerk doesn’t speak any English. I wrote down the words “electricity” and “power” on some paper and she looked them up in her Chinese-English dictionary. When she realized what I was asking, she said, “Power good today.” So here I am, on the computer despite the fact she may be wrong and the power could indeed be going out at any moment. I feel bad for no posts this week, though, so I am taking the gamble.

Our internet connection has not been reliable either, lately, which is strange. We haven’t had that problem in the 2 months we’ve been here. Oh well, best not to wonder too much.

Shopping in the city today was not too bad. The shopping center I go to, Beiguo, is always packed. Today there were masses of people trying on winter coats and sweaters, all at discounted prices. The weather is quite a lot cooler this weekend. The air is fairly clear, thank goodness, but I still see a lot of people in the city wearing face masks. I had to chuckle at one girl who was wearing a cloth mask with Hello Kitty embroidered on it. I kind of wished I could ask her where she got it. On some badly polluted days, it’s not a bad idea to cover your mouth & nose! (Maybe Michael Jackson isn’t so crazy?!) Oh, by the way, I’ve had it confirmed to me that Shijiazhuang is indeed the second most polluted city in China, second to another city that is about 100KM from here…..What a place to build a flight training academy!

Speaking of language skills, my Chinese is still pretty deplorable. I had hoped to be doing much better after 2 months here. So far I am still only capable of saying: hello, how much, thank you, airport, go straight, highway, water, beer, a few numbers and how to order a few of my favorite food dishes in local restaurants. Pathetic. I’ve really got to pull out the Pimsleur books & tapes and get to work. It really would make things so much easier, but to tell you the truth, when you are sort of cocooned in a language bubble, and no one can understand you and you can’t understand anyone else, it is kind of interesting. As though you are watching everything around you on a screen, and you are not really there. I think I’d prefer to burst the bubble and actually communicate, though.

I’ve been pretty busy at work. The English department is going through some changes, namely that now there is actually an English department being developed. My bigger English classes are going well. Now I have about 80 more students who also want to be included in these classes, so my 20 hour a week job is fast becoming a 40 hour a week job. Let’s hope the salary also decides to double…at least! The powers that be in the company have indicated that they would like the English department to expand so that the school can become compliant with the new English recommendations released by the international aviation body. (English is now the official language of aviation – worldwide.) I really don’t know what that means, but I hope it means more money, more support & more teachers!!

As promised, I will be telling you all about Chinese Hot Pot and a few other things through the day… Stay tuned. As I get more organized at work I hope to be more diligent in posting thoughts and pics!