To inform entertain and excite my kids, Jamie, Patrick, Aaron & Sarah Middleburgh, our family and friends.

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Middleburgh Hotpot

Christmass is traditionally a time for family, food, parties and for some, a break in New York or indeed, Tunisia. I enjoyed Tunisia, especially the French style festive meal. I have equally enjoyed traditional Turkey in London, Seasonal Goose in Dublin, Barbies in Melbourne and Hotpot in China, as well as winter solstice meals with my partner's family.

This years solstice meal, not unlike previous years or indeed the spring, summer or autumn meals, consisted of

It was neither kosher nor for meat eaters or those environmentally concerned about depredations on sharks and reef fish.

The Hotpot was something else...

We have a departmental end of year party in Shenzhen. Very civilized - no drunkenness or debauchery - just a meal followed by party games etc. Hotpot is a traditional chinese seasonal meal which comes in a couple different forms best described on wikopedia. It is totally different from an Anglo Saxon/Irish hotpot aka "a stew" and is an eating experience similar to eating fondue in that you cook your own at the table. The only relationship to european hotpots is that it is a winter/cold weather dish.

Last year we had shared hotpot ie a pot per table with 2 sections each with a different flavoured stock into which we all threw food. Apart from potential hygiene risks it may be problematic if someone wants to cook something which you find objectionable eg clotted pigs blood, duck tongues or chicken feet.(I can cope with last two and the blood was universally rejected)

This year we had individiual pots (taiwanese style?) and apart from making sure that everything was properly cooked (it requires patience) the most complicated part was choosing the dipping sauces. There was a buffet style bar where you choose from a extensive variety of sauces/dressings (about 50 types) eg satay , chilli, sweet/sour soy and so on . When your food was cooked you can spice it up by dipping into one of your chosen sauces, which by end of meal have all blended together. When the meal is over there is fresh fruit (orange/pinapple or melon slices) and/or red beans in an ice pyramid/cone. (red bean things are very traditional chinese sweet - personally give me the clotted blood!!)

You can do hotpot at home if you have a table top induction ring but it normally doesn't make sense unless you are having family or friends over. You can buy ingredients (stock, fresh vegetables, meat ,fish etc in hotpot packs) at the supermarket. However in HK,in season, it's easier for 1 or 2 people just to go to a restaurant, even Maxim's and Fairwood's. They give you everything on a tray, you do your own thing and they do the washing up.

Of course the 64K$ question is ... what did we have for christmass dinner.. Well....

23/12Lamb CurryHome cooked - not me
24/12Scallops/prawns/mangetout; beef/choyTakeout
25/12Seafood RissottoHome cooked - not me
26/12Lamb Chops,Boiled new potatoes,brocolli,peasHome Cooked - moi
28/12Spagetti bolognaiseHome cooked -moi
29/12beuf carbonademashed potatoesHome Cooked - moi
31/12Steak, saute potatoes, pak choiHome cooked - moi
01/01Mussels Mariniere, Chips,and fresh BlackberriesHome cooked - Moi

Excellent frozen Mussels from Chile,like North sea mussels as opposed to the Green lipped New Zealand ones typically available here. Quickest way to get frittes was from Mcdonalds. Blackberries were from Mexico. I haven't had fresh ones in 30 years. They and the mussels were bought in the supermarket and I am amazed that such things are imported into HK. God knows what my carbon debt is as a result

Although there was no turkey and I did miss the Queens speech I did have a traditional christmass pudding which i "won" at the office party Pictures from the party are on my other blog

For what its worth the best meal of the holiday (in my humble opinion) was the breakfast fry up on the first day;bacon,sausage, egg, beans, mushrooms, onion and french bread.

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