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Day 100 – Hot Pot with Not So Much Spam in It

June 11, 2010

Dateline: Beijing, China – Friday, June 11, 2010

Another day in Beijing; another Laker game and another morning in The Den. This time there were even more Celtic fans, which made this loss more annoying. I’ll leave it at this: every time I saw Farmar and Brown in the backcourt (which happened too much in the fourth quarter) I just expected a turnover. I think the game was lost when, for about 8 minutes in the fourth quarter, all the Lakers did was turn the ball over. Game 5 is on Monday morning (my time). I have a feeling I’m going to watch.

After the game I had a quick lunch at a sandwich shop near the Vietnam Embassy. Since this is Beijing, near meant 1 km away, which, in this town, means it’s within walking distance. At 2 p.m. I picked up my passport and my Vietnam visa. I wandered nearby Ritan Park and from there it was an afternoon of writing before dinner.

Ah, dinner. Let’s get to that, shall we? I met Lillian and Yoyo at Xiabo Xiabo, a hot pot chain restaurant. Back home, a couple of married friends of mine host hot pot once a month. This means a bunch of us sit around a bowl of boiling broth, cooking meat and vegetables, and steaming up all the windows in the little apartment. Hot pot usually ends up being a 4 hour eating binge with about six breaks to recharge our appetites. It almost goes without saying that I love hot pot.

Which puts Xiabo Xiabo in my wheelhouse. It combines two of my favorite food elements: food cooked at your table and food eaten out of a communal container. I love being able to grill, boil, roast, or fry your own food to taste. It’s a big reason why I love Korean barbecue. I also think that eating out of a shared dish instantly makes you closer friends—you have to absolutely trust someone if you’re all going to being jabbing chopsticks into a common bowl or ripping Ethiopian flat bread with your bare hands.

After a long wait, we were finally seated and were able to order our plates of meat and vegetables. Lamb, bacon, beef, tripe, tofu, and the occasional green leafy thing all ended up in the boiling broth. Yoyo tried to order brain and blood, but they were out. Of course. They’re Chinese hot pot favorites, after all.

As we wound down, Lillian asked if I wanted more meat. I said I could handle one more meat plate. In keeping with my previous hot pot overeating experiences, she ordered four.

When our second meal came out, we discovered that Lillian had inadvertently ordered Spam. Yoyo had asked Lillian (in Chinese) whether she wanted to try “canned meat.” Feeling adventurous, she said yes and that’s how we ended up hot potting America’s favorite compressed meat product (not counting Chicken McNuggets).

We stuffed ourselves silly and ended up being the last patrons to waddle out of the joint. Classic hot pot, even though there wasn’t any pig’s blood.

GALLERY: Click through to today’s gallery to see an artificial rock formation that Mervyn will install in his make-believe mansion and to see old guys happily flying kites in Ritan Park, proving that men will congregate and shoot the shit around any activity, even if that activity is less productive than fishing (at least acquires food) and slightly more pointless than golf (at least provides competition and produces a winner). It’s good to be a man.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Fran permalink
    June 14, 2010 7:36 pm

    You got my attention! Hot pot by my people (well almost my people- just swim out a few yards east). Are we made famous now? Are we the married couple you’re referring to?!? I have to say, with you away, hot pot has not been hop-ening. Come back so we can steam up the windows in our little apartment (maybe little house soon). Keep your intestines safe!

    • June 16, 2010 9:08 pm

      I am talking about you and the hubby. I can’t wait to steam up your apartment windows soon. By risking my intestines out here, they’re becoming steeled for more exotic hot pot add ins. By the time I hit your place, pig’s blood ain’t goin’ be nuthin’.

      We should include Becca and Franck and the little nugget on a hot pot thing. With the two giants along, we can really crowd up the place.

      • Fran permalink
        June 18, 2010 5:32 pm

        Are you going to be here when the giants arrive? I think they’re here until August 18th.

      • June 22, 2010 1:41 am

        The Giants? Like in baseball? You confuse me. I’m a Dodger fan.

        Oh, you mean Chewbecca, Mr. Chewy, and the Chewgette. I hope to be in the Bay Area by then. Perhaps by the 15th. Plan something after the 14th and I’ll be there.

  2. Fran permalink
    June 18, 2010 8:59 pm

    Btw- mainlanders dont know their hot pot – are those shitake mushrooms i see?!

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