My internet has been off lately not allowing me to post - sorry to my few readers... :)
Since "winter" is slowly dawning upon us here in Shantou (we really only have summer and spring with one month of winter), the season of eating hotpot has begun. "Hotpot" is basically a style of eating where you have a table with a burner in the middle where a pot is placed filled with broth. Plates of meat, veggies, and noodles are brought out and the eaters cook and eat as the like by putting the various edibles in the broth and then fish them out with ladles, spoons, and chopsticks. It usually takes several hours to eat leaving room for much laughter, drinking, and of course, eating! I am always stuffed after eating hotpot. It supposedly keeps you warm and helps you sleep - but I think that's due to overeating, not the hotpot. ;) It's a great meal to eat on a chilly evening and in the company of good people.
Last night I went to have hotpot with some employees from Lafayette. We went to a supposedly really good lamb, or as they say, mutton, restaurant. We entered a large, noisy, crowded warehouse type room, typical for many Chinese restaurants, and sat at a large table with, of course, a large burner in the middle. Our broth was brought out (it had a WHOLE tomato in it - ha, usually they take the time to at least cut it) and our plates of meat arrived.
Now I know lamb is usually gray in color, but not this gray. And I have eaten plenty of weird things in China, but this array of meat was one of the most bizarre...and frightening:
- lamb heart
- bones (some identifiable ones)
- thick pieces of skin
- lots of lamb fat
- big chunks of veiny stomach
- lamb balls (balls of meat, not testicles)
- one item that resembled either a tail, ear, or toe
- 1 identifiable dish that even they didn't know what it was
You know it's bad if even Chinese people can't identify the food or want to eat it . . .
I watched as my friends slowly started to say they were full, " wo chi bao le" and didn't want to eat anymore. They started out being polite about it (you know, save face), but eventually the walls came down and we all began to laugh about the grossness of our meal. We ended up serving most of the meat into poor Gordon's bowl, the man who had suggested the restaurant in the first place. I think we all unanimously decided that we do NOT want to see lamb for quiet some time!
I am thankful for an open mind...and an open stomach, the ability to laugh, and gag reflexes that stayed quiet.
Ah, China. You never cease to give me unforgettable experiences.