06 January 2010
This is a traditional firepot. Or, well, it's actually a huo guo. Which in Mandarin translates as "fire" and "pot" so my family just calls it a firepot. :) It has space for a small charcoal fire in the bottom part, a donut-shaped bowl for food, and a chimney. The bowl is filled with soup (usually pork broth), and the table is set with platters of raw food that get cooked in the soup as the meal goes. Through the chimney is how the fire gets stirred and more charcoal added.
Food items include thinly sliced raw meats, green leafy things like spinach and cabbage, tofu, fish balls, other seafood, and things along those lines. Each eater gets a plate with some soy sauce, sesame oil, and sometimes other sauces (we use a lot of sah tsa, which I have no idea how to describe). The meal ends with putting mei fun into the pot, and a bowl on the chimney to smother the fire (if it hasn't already gone out).
Firepot is what we do for festive occasions (in much the same way that most Americans of the dominant culture have turkey on Thanksgiving). Nowadays, because people are more worried about fire hazards, they make electric versions of the pot or just use fondue pots instead. To me, that's just not the same...