Why Hot Pot Time Machine?

Ni hao, every boldy. Around the first year blogiversary I guess it would be time to explain the story of our name. In a minute. Meanwhile, Tao mio, I started to wonder how many (millions) of things happened during this one year! In fact, I never actually buy it when people go off whinging how fast time passes. Nah. If you take some flash seconds to list all the, no, you know, merely a few, of the events you attended, feelings and ambiences that you experienced, conversations/fights/reconciliations you had and all the pasta you’ve burnt, it would, sooner then later, dawn on you just how packed this period was and how normally time is flowing. Alternatively, you can always just count how many breakfasts you’ve made in one year and you’ll see how regularly our days are gliding. So, time is doing just fine. Slow the speed in your head.

Hot Pot (hŭo guō). First, simply because it is such a popular way of preparing food in Chinese restaurants. You sit around for hours, simmer your veggies and boil your piggies in the hot water and binge eat and binge talk. Many foreigners I’ve listened to, though, seem to prefer other (Japanese or Korean) rather than Chinese hot pot (some call it STEAMBOAT), mostly because the way Chinese folks cut the meat plus the greasy broth put them off. True, not a single part of the animal gets to be spared. From pig brain to chicken feet you can end up ordering virtually anything unless you are familiar with the menu or you’re accompanied by a local. Or, at least, an Ipad app. Nelly once told me that picking from a menu in a restaurant in China is actually a kind of art form. Foolishly, I did not believe her then. Since then, Dan (we’ve made up, yippeee) has been educating me – though, to be honest, with dubious results. I always manage to get mixed up not only with what I ask for but whether it’s something hot or cold and whether it is a dish that is meant to be eaten as a main course or as a pudding. Nowadays I sneak peek at other tables and quietly point at which of the other guests’ dish I’d like to try.

 

Personally, I love Chinese hot pot. Especially on those bone-chilling winter days when one is desperate to, finally, warm up. (Central heating is not so common in Shanghai and the forced-air they use here is does not give you a sense of comfort). Since alcoholising is not so much on the cool side here (unless you happen to take your clients out and you’re obliged to get dead-bear drunk in order to show them you even go as far as sickening yourself for a business deal.) hotpots prove to be one of the best social lubricants. The one we were challenged with in Chengdu last May was so good I managed to burn myself as I was too eager to fish the ham out of the brass pan. The by now apparently permanent mark on my arm reminds me of the spices there which made my tongue feel thrice as big and felt as if I had billions of tasting buds that suddenly started to live their own life all over my mouth. At one point I remember wanting to shout to John how damn picante it was and not a single sound came out, I was just trying to catch my breath. Those guys probably numbed not only my tongue after a while but my windpipes, too.

I’m traveling to Wuhan next week. Not the most desired guiri destination but all the better, we want to escape the crowd. Plus I want to see where Dan spent his uni years. The Golden Week as it’s called by some here. Well, getting 7 consecutive days off by the government to commemorate the nation is not little pasta (Nem kis tészta, as we, Hungaritos, say). I always say I’m a huge fan of spicy food, despite that fact it makes me suffer (twice). Well, Wuhan, show me what you’ve got.

Secondly, bfff, Time Machine or Hot Pot Time Machine because of an idiotic movie called Hot Tub Time Machine. I saw it just before leaving for China in September, 2010 and however male-chauvinistic and cheap and gross it was, still, I thought it was great. I’m not sure how well-known it got in Europe; maybe this is another Napoleon Dynamite of a gem that goes unnoticed outside the post-Columbine World.

 

Any hăo, the story is that a bunch of ego-challenged guys, who have been best buddies for decades, decide to rekindle their age old habit to go on a trip together to a resort and try and be young again. There they go, goofing and reminiscing all the way. When night comes and they’re sitting and getting soaked (both by the water bubbles and Bacardi soda) in the Jacuzzi the machine breaks and takes them back to twenty years earlier, somewhere in the 80s.

Well, for me, someone who witnessed Hungary’s changing winds and fluorescent (susogós) overalls and overdone, yellow and burnt, hairdos, today’s China, ductile yet still traditional, seems like a personal 4D Filofax, constantly reminding me of my childhood. Not only because of the local colour-and fabric craze (clock into Timi’s chromophil site, which she blissfully restarted a few days ago) but also the way I see people react to the accelerated/ing changes, the opening up (to more Americanisation) and displaying, many times jaw droppingly sophisticated, good tastes just as well, at times, clumsy imitations (see European architecture and sculpting in modern-day China, i.e. public and residential buildings etc. Next time I go to work I’ll take my camera and will take some pictures from the bus).

Finally, I guess you can “watch” my blog just the same way as you’d watch Hot Tub Time Machine. Get some super bbq flavoured Pringles and a Heineken from your fridge, change into your most légere pajamas, switch off and just enjoy. No sweat.

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