If anyone can tell me what “bacteria” actually is here, that would solve a lot of confusion. From a menu in a random restaurant in Beijing.
Note that I’m almost completely illiterate in written Mandarin Chinese, although I am teaching myself how to write it at the moment!
When I went to Chengdu in the province of Sichuan, China last year, I had the experience of “cooking” hot pot. I write “cooking” with quotation marks because you are cooking raw ingredients yourself but all it involves is the lifting of a hand and some awareness as to how cooked your food is. All the flavour comes from the stock that is bubbling away the entire time, which means everything pretty much all tastes the same. For me though, hot pot is probably more about the experience and time spent with family and friends than the food.
Of course, this wasn’t the first time that I had eaten hot pot – I’ve had it several times before, both at home and in China – but this was my first real “Sichuan” hot pot, meaning: extremely spicy. Also, up until this point, I had only ever eaten the food dipped with sesame or peanut sauce; in Sichuan, they dip the food in sesame oil as a way of masking the spiciness.
An abundant and simple way to enjoy time with your companions and indulge in a bit of gluttony.