Noodles and Hotpot

The Chinese National holiday week, which commemorates the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, started last Saturday. Cindy’s parents had arrived so we celebrated with friends by going out to a hotpot meal. Now, I have had many many hotpots with the Xin family. Spicy hotpot is their favorite food and in their own home in the west, Huaxi, in the Guangzhou family home, even in New Zealand, they have their own table hotpot pot. Out of consideration for the children of the family and folk like me, they always use the double hotpot where one half is spicy soup, and the other is not.
Saturday’s meal was the nicest best most relaxed ever. We had a wonderful evening from stepping out of the taxi in mild drizzle and being greeted by fuyuyuan with umbrellas to escort us to our pre-booked place, till finally arriving home sated, with happy delightful boys, and all straight to bed. The table arrangement was perfect for the combination of children, inept grandmother and boiling hot soup – unlike nightmare meals I remember in other places where boiling soup and small boys were far too close together for me to bear. Here we were given hot cloths for hands, I and others with glasses were given glasses cloths to wipe off the steam, there was a choice buffet style ‘make your own dipping sauce’ and the boys got cushions to adjust their chairs to just right size. I created a concoction of sesame, vinegar, garlic and herbs and was able to avoid the peanut and hot chilli usually in such sauces which means I do without or need gallons of water.
If you know hotpot eating, you will know the ingredients go in raw in a very particular order for proper cooking/safe eating. The waiters were attentive and perfect. Then, the final ingredient, the noodles!! And, here, the noodle maker. Ihave seen noodles made fresh from scratch butnever ever have I seen a noodle maker do a ribbon dance around a table, shooting lengths of dough to within a few inches of giggling boy noses, looping around heads, wriggling waves never touching a thing even though one was certain that disgusting disaster was about to strike. After about five whole minutes, just as I thought Ali would die of laughing and Louis fall off his seat trying to follow the strands, this magician did a quick catch, a finger flick to break his rope into multiple strands and the noodles were in the soup without a splash, and soon out again – utterly delicious eating.
By some idiotic association I kept thinking of Bruce Forsyth and the generation game long ago – a kind of contrast to this whole experience which was so ephemeral and nonsensical and wonderful. I do not even know the name of the restaurant let alone the magic young man with the skill you could see he enjoyed too.
Long live all the people who do daft and lovely things.

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One thought on “Noodles and Hotpot

  1. Dear Elspeth
    I have so enjoyed the evening meal of hotpot with you,as well as the celebration with the Chinese and UK families.What a lovely peek at the event you’ve given!
    The floor show or juggling with noodles will live in everyones memory for some time.Fun and food for all ages.
    Here at 72, I gave supper to Jackie and her friend Tommy where I concocted a fair meal from a few things from M&S and a wee bit of disguising imagination.I didn’t own up!
    I can see you are enjoying your position of pet Grannie.
    Did you drink Jasmine tea with the hotpot?
    Love to all
    Mary
    XX

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