To help us all survive the short yet somewhat dreary month of February, we celebrated Hot Pot day at school on Friday. I am guessing that you, like me, have no idea what a "hot pot day" might look like or how one might celebrate it. After I heard that it required an extended lunch hour, I decided that was all the information that I needed and looked forward to the day with much anticipation.
For those of you who are not satisfied with the extra lunch time description, let me describe a meal with a hot pot. A large pot set on top of a hot plate is filled with some sort of broth. Diners patiently wait for the broth to heat to a proper temperature and then drop whatever desired fixin's into the soup and wait for them to cook. Our fixin's (that is the technical Mandarin word, by the way) were all quite tasty and included everything from crab and sliced pork to corn and tofu. Once the food has been cooked, it is fished out of the soup to make room for more things to be cooked.
The extra lunch hour was a lovely way to spend our Friday afternoon. Chris and I had our fill of noodles and dumplings and watched the high school boys eat more pork than I had previously thought was humanly possible. We later found out that we, on the ninth floor of the school, were quite lucky because we only had one group of students eating in our room. On some of the lower floors, there were several groups eating which required more electric hot pots which, in turn, freaked out the electric system and caused rolling blackouts throughout the afternoon. When the edibility of your lunch depends on the constancy of temperature, rolling blackouts are not your friend. Eventually, however, we heard that everyone got enough to eat and I have not yet heard of any cases of food poisoning. Any day without salmonella is a good day in my book.