I never liked hot pot: I was an impatient kid armed with a surprisingly scroogey sense of humor.
“If I wanted to go to a restaurant, why would I cook?”
Yes, the ingredients are all prepped. All I had to do was to throw them in boiling broths in a specified order that would appease my mother.
Oh no, I must stop myself before I analyze it as a metaphor.
Hell, I wrote this one for a reason. In an attempt to capture those rare winter weekends paired with icy rains and the usual polite indecision, when my family didn’t have the insight to make dinner reservations and opted to wait in line. Then we would be seated, hungry, order and watch as mother insists on throwing in the napa cabbage first and nothing else.
I reached for a meatball to earn a retort I knew coming.
“Don’t touch that, if you eat it, you will get breast cancer or other bad things for women.”
The last part was always added as father proceeded to drop all the toppings she deemed cancerous. And, as I settled with flavorless meat — soy sauce and variations were also forbidden — and piles of vegetables, assuming that my father only continue to throw those things in the pot may kill me anyway because he cared not of me.
Then, one fateful day on a rainy, foggy weekend, my friends made plans for hot pot. Then I noticed that all was already placed in the pot for me. Then I realized that there was no cancer threats for me. But the toppings felt so wrong, like the forbidden fruits of a mother’s threat-laced care.
I ate the whole pot and was satisfied.