Sunday, 9 November 2008

The Hot Pot

Under the cherry blossom

Our group at the table.

Steam from the hot pot hides our birthday boy.

The cave.

On Friday nights we go to dinner somewhere in Shaoxing. Sometimes there are 12 foreign teachers, and other times there are just 4 or 5 of us. Last Friday night it was pouring with rain, and there were supposed to be 7 of us going to a Hot Pot Restaurant. The French couple got lost and we didn't see them.

Seven of us arrived at the restaurant which was built to resemble a cave. We entered via a staircase which had cement stalagmites and stalactites built into it, and when inside we could see cave like structures as well as big tree trunks all created with cement.

The restaurant is very popular and was very crowded and busy, so we had to wait for a table for a short while. Eventually a table was vacated, it was cleaned and we sat down. I am always complaining that there is no wine on any drinks menu - as I do not like beer. The beer is a very "watered down" version of what the Aussies like to drink anyway. One of our group spotted "white wine" on the menu. It was very cheap - so curiously we ordered some for me. I have no idea what it was - it had a vague wine taste, but it resembled a beer. Anyway, for me, better than a Coke or Fanta.
We ordered - thanks to some students who had translated the menu for us as we had to mark on a sheet the food that we wished to eat.

Soon a waiter arrive and put the "soup" in the hole in the middle of the table, our food arrived. All on a big tray and each item we had ordered was on a little plate or in a little bowl. We were given three "soup ladles" and chopsticks and when the soup was bubbling we dropped our food in to cook, and fished it out again with our chopsticks or the ladle.
It was quite an experience and as often happens here we had ordered more food than we could eat. An interesting way to eat. And so inexpensive too. No wonder it was so popular. So there we were in a cave under cherry blossom, eating our meal.

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