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Chinese Culture In Hot Pot

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Hot Pot Chinese Culture

The high temperature in the hot pot is symbolic of the warmth of tender feeling that those people sitting around it have for each other, while the round shape of the apparatus is a hint at the lack or complete absence of irregularities in the man-to-man relationship. Undoubtedly, this way of eating is not only a figurative embodiment but a visual indication of the willingness to eat from the same pot and to share the same lot. This is the most highly prized merit of group consciousness.

The hot pot is not only a cooking method; it also provides a way of eating. It is not only a dietary mode; it is also a cultural mode. As a dietary mode, the hot pot can be used by many people dining together, or by one person eating alone. Yet how few are those solitary diners to be found in a restaurant! In a hot pot restaurant it's really hard to meet with a customer dining by him/herself. This is not because the diner wants to economize, but because dining by oneself in front of a hot pot is devoid of interest and joy.

Another point of great importance from the philosophical point of view is that the hot pot needs the employment of fire.

The beginning of the use of fire was a great event in the cultural history of mankind. This event occurred in the history of the Chinese nation at a time immemorial. It dates back to about 1,700,000 years ago. The use of the hot pot, therefore, has a history of at least 8,000 years. As a matter of fact, in the culture of China the use or non-use of fire and the eating of food in a cooked or raw state have always been regarded as the line of demarcation between progress and backwardness, between civilization and barbarism.

The modern hot pot is probably the reminiscences of "dining around a fire"in the earliest times or during intermission of a battle in the remote past.

Chinese Food culture

Now let's delve a little more deeply into traditional Chinese philosophy from the point of view of the hot pot. As was mentioned before, Chinese people like to have reunions, such as class reunions, reunions with relatives and reunions with childhood cronies. The periphery of a hot pot, by its round shape, reminds one of people sitting in a circle as on the occasion of the lunar New Year, which is now called the spring Festival, while the hot soup in the hot pot at the center of the table is the signification or a token of the affectionate emotion surging in the minds of those people seated around the table. The warm feeling is also at its boiling point, like the water in the hot pot. The water serves to process the material being cooked in the hot pot. This may convince one of the truth of the ancient saying that what is tough and unyielding can be conquered by patience and gentle handling.

The hot pot does not deny any meat or fish admission; it does not disdain the low-class vegetables; it makes no distinction in its treatment of materials from South and North; it does not repudiate condiments from either East or West; and it greets and accommodates materials of all ranks: costly delicacies produced in mountains, dainties of every kind from the seas, fresh and tasty edibles from rivers, vegetables in season, bean curd and even vermicelli made from bean starch. Nothing that comes to it is refused acceptance; everything is given the privilege of entering into the dish. This embodies the attitude recommended in ancient China for adoption by rulers of "being hospitable to people of all strata in the land under heaven". In the hot pot, meat and vegetables of every description are mixed without preference for any; the so-called five tastes are all present there; and the main ingredients and the accessories are intermingled without regard to tastes.

This state of affairs gives embodiment to what was considered in the past the benefit of neutralization and called "the beauty of Central Harmony". What is

Hot pot Chinese

more important is that the hot pot can express to the highest degree both metaphorically and visually the profound meaning of the Chinese saying which is commonly used to guarantee a brotherly relationship, namely "to dine out of the same rice pot", which means the sharing of weal and woe literally, without any discount at all. Furthermore, such dining out of the same pot or bowl is by no means compulsory in the case of the hot pot. Everyone has his/her option in the selection of the main ingredient to be boiled and then eat it. This is the vivid and lively state of affairs described by the popular Chinese saying "Apart from realizing the unified will of the group, everyone is in a comfortable and relaxed frame of mind." For all these reasons, therefore, no matter whether it is in the Northeast, or at Guangzhou in the South, or in Sichuan or Yunnan to the west, or in Jiangsu or Zhejiang to the east, almost no one is not fond of dining out of a hot pot.

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