The Apache Pow Wow

A Hot Pot Thanksgiving

Tanya Lee, Staff Writer

As kids, we were taught in school that Thanksgiving meant turkeys, cornucopias, and Pilgrims. I would always see glistening pictures of people with fake smiles plastered on their faces as they carved a turkey, ladled gravy over a mountain of mashed potatoes, or sliced into a pumpkin pie. But when the time came to actually eat our Thanksgiving meal, I was a bit disappointed to see a pot of soup with various plates of raw vegetables and meat around it on our table. That was my first experience with Thanksgiving: eating hot pot.

To my family, Thanksgiving wasn’t a time to eat the classic foods that most people are probably familiar with. My mother is vegetarian, and my father has a long list of dietary restrictions, so the traditional Thanksgiving feast wasn’t ideal. Hot pot, on the other hand, was perfect. With a divided pot, it was easy to separate the vegetarian dishes from the meat dishes. You could cook pretty much anything you wanted: mushrooms, lettuce, tofu, etc.

Despite my initial disappointment, I quickly grew to love the soothingly warm dish. My parents often paired it with Martinelli’s sparkling cider, which often made my younger self squeal with delight since soda was a rarity in our household. From the soft tofu that parted neatly in my mouth to the golden needle mushrooms that so often got stuck between my teeth, I often found myself bursting with delicious food after the meal.

As I grew older, hot pot began to shift from a special holiday meal to a symbol of the moments I shared with my family. I ended up trying out the sesame sauce my parents always ate, and I soon found myself addicted to the salty concoction. My mom gave me some cellophane noodles, and from then on, I would always steal some from her. The little things that happened while eating hot pot eventually affected the rest of my life. It completely changed my view on food, and also completely revolutionized my palate.

In addition, I realized that hot pot was like family. Yes, it sounds cheesy, but I think it’s completely true. In hot pot, there are tons of very different ingredients you can use, but they all combine together into one single dish. Similarly, members of a family can all be very different, but in the end, they combine together into one cohesive group.

In the end, hot pot seems like a simple, almost boring dish. But it played an interesting role in my childhood, and it will warm my heart for years to come.

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A Hot Pot Thanksgiving