There is a meal in China called Hot Pot. It is prepared at your table. It’s basically a boiling pot of water that you stick food into for a few minutes then you take the food out and eat it. In the US it would be a lawsuit waiting to happen.
I had it the second night I was there. It was terrible. Really bad. Like mushy diaper bad. The night before I left I had it again. On accident. I was wandering around trying to find the Kung Fu theater and I wandered into a restaurant. In front of the restaurant there was a guy heating coals with some sort of home made sanding belt that was sending sparks all over. I recognized the Hotpots on the table but was running out of time and could not find any other restaurant in the area.
The place was packed which is always a really good sign. Often if I am in a new place and don’t know where to go, I get in line. Usually there is a reason so many people are in line. The collective intelligence of the group is higher than any one individual. Especially if that individual is me. And I am lost. In a place where I don’t speak the language.
The menu was entirely in Chinese except for the numbers. Oh boy. I wanted chicken. I tried saying Chicken. Nothing. Then I tried saying it louder, like we Americans like to do. Nothing. Then I turned to Charades and acted like a chicken. Both thumbs under my armpits. Arms flapping up and down like I was at a wedding doing the chicken dance. I jutted my head back and forth like I was Merton Hanks after scoring a touch down.
I danced around the restaurant like a chicken. They got it. I think they got it sooner than they let on but just keep calling people over to watch. “Lets see how long we can get this idiot to dance around the restaurant like a chicken”.
Didn’t matter. It was worth it the food was delicious. This Hotpot had a volcano looking metal part in the middle that was filled with coals. You open or close the top to control how hot the water got. Open it up completely and the water boils like its a caldron for witches. Close it up, where it gets no air, and the water just bubbles gently.
Food was great.
After dinner I made it to the theater. I saw the Beijing Kung Fu show. So so cool. It was Circ de Soleil meets Enter the Dragon only with more yelling and singing.
If you get a chance both things are a can’t miss in Beijing.
The Hotpot meal made me think what a difference it makes when something done right. The first version was terrible. Not really hot and the ingredients where not up to par. I if I had not had it that second time I would have thought I hated Hotpot. Which I don’t. I hate a bad version of hotpot. I wonder how many other things I have written off because I experienced a bad copy of them.
Sometime I think I do my self a disservice by not giving things a chance. If I had judged the Kung Fu show by the Kung Fu “demonstration” we had at our jr high, I would have missed out on one of the highlights of the trip.