Hot pot is sometimes referred to as Chinese fondue (I mean,
I’ve never heard anyone call it that, but they can’t lie on Wikepedia, right?) and it’s basically just a hot vat of goodness boiling away in the middle of your table. Usually, there’s a divider and you have two different kinds of broth. You do your thing and grab a whole bunch of raw noms and throw them in the pot until they’re cooked. Then you fish them out and eat them plain, or with rice. It’s a great group activity, and in my head, a total bonding experience. Group cooking, turns into a group scavenger hunt when you have no idea where that chicken/mushroom/tofu/root you threw in actually went in the soup. It’s sweet magic all around. The sauces aren’t AS good as in China. But for being in Provo, Utah, it’s pretty darn satisfying. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the dinner price includes unlimited buffet access to the raw noms (this translates into hours of fun sitting ’round the pot) as well as free soda with refills and ACCESS TO THE ICE CREAM FREEZER. Hi. I’m 4,000 pounds at heart.
But in reality, I was surprised at how happy I was to be around people speaking Chinese again. And also, how embarrassingly quickly my baby Chinese came right back to me. We’re over grabbing some rice and I bump into a guy, and I’m all, “dui bu qi” without even thinking. He gives me a terrible look and walks away and we realize, yeah. He’s white. He was speaking English. Eeeey, sir. Also, the lady who owned the place was adorable. I can’t get over her. It’s been a while since anyone busted out piao liang (the Chinese word for beautiful) about me. Is that because I’ve been home from Asia for almost a month, or is it because I didn’t shower the majority of my time in China? You tell me. But she was ridiculously complimentary. She was so sweet about our Chinese and also, tried to set us up with some Taiwanese RMs who were at the table over. I realize what I’m about to say is potentially revolutionary or mind-blowing, but… two people being tall and mutually enjoying hot pot does not a relationship make.