Going to China and not trying Chinese hotpot is like going to Paris and not seeing Eiffel Tower. There are many kinds of hotpot in China, Sichuan spicy hotpot, Yunnan mushroom hotpot, Beijing style hotpot, Guangdong hotpot or Mongolian hotpot.
There is a legend about hotpot that dates back to 1,700 years. Genghis Khan, the father of Mongols, exhausted during the blood battle ordered his cook to prepare a meal for him. Despite the fact that cook found just some sheep on the battlefield, Genghis Khan told him to slice up their meat, boil it in water and serve it up with a variety of tasty sauces. Khan after eating his meal recovered his energy and went to the battle to win. Since that time Mongolian hotpot has become very popular and started to spread across China as well.
Datong, a Chinese city in Shanxi province with a history of more than 2,300 years, is famous for producing a traditional copper hotpot. They have an old saying : “Worship the Buddhas at Wutai Mountains and buy copperware in Datong.”
The Datong hotpot has six parts base plate, fire base, pot, lid of the pot, copper chimney, lid of chimney and it is shaped as a tower around 12 inches high. The inside of a copper pot is coated with tin, it acts as a disinfectant and retains the original taste of food. The production itself is divided into six parts : formation, welding, lining with tin, chisel carving, polishing , assembling and it requires excellent skills of casting, designing and carving. Designs on the pots are very unique, for example dragon playing with phoenix (symbolizing love between man and woman), magpies on plum tree, Eight Immortals etc.
There were many wars in Datong, as it is a border city. so the art of making copper hotpots was handed down just by oral teaching and there are not any exact historical documents about making hotpots in this area. However hotpot is still a favourite dish not only for Chinese people.
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Silvia M.//SMC Editor
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Credits : flavorandfortune.com, gbtimes.com, traditions.cultural-china.com, googleimages.com