Cover photo caption: Hot pot is great and all, but despite the fact that you “cook” the food yourself, it doesn’t feel like “real” cooking because all the ingredients are pre-prepared. The solution? Make hotpot on your own! We rented this party room which had a pool table, mahjong table, karaoke room, and a dining table. We brought ingredients and used these bowls that the 阿姨 (ah-yi, literally meaning aunt but is the term used for older females) provided. I learned a lot about what is in hotpot. You start with 火锅底料 (“huo guo dee liao”, which is hotpot base ingredients), add water, and start dropping in food! Common items are noodles, many types of tofu, shrimp, meatballs, beef, multiple types of dumplings, vegetables such as lettuce and cabbage, and mushrooms. Then there are sauces. These are commonly a peanut sauce (tasting somewhat like peanut butter) and a spicy pepper sauce. Lastly, side dishes with hotpot are commonly peanuts (two types—sugar coated and pepper coated), watermelon (which is often sprinkled with sugar), cucumber, and shrimp chips (these fluffy chips that have shrimp inside). All in all, it was a very fun group activity and I definitely will try to coordinate something like that with friends and family back at home!