We went to Happy Valley at 18:00 and had bowl upon bowl of ma2 la4 huo3 guo1 (hot and spicy fire pot): a sterno or gas burner is placed on your table and on it is a pot of broth, sometimes with hot oil, made from chili steeped in oil.
Plates heaped full of tofu, rice noodles, napa or bok choy, and bowls of chili sauce, peanut sauce, and garlic in vegetable oil or soy sauce are placed in front of each diner. They bring frozen seafood and meat (chicken, beef, sometimes pork and mutton), sliced very thin, and the diners take turns boiling their own food at the table.
ETA, 23:30 CDT Sat 30 Apr 2005: Or, as yodge reminds me...
You're not supposed to take turns! You're suppose to all charge at the same time and fight! And then someone goes "oi! who wants beef?!" And three people go "ME!!" And the first person cooks enough beef for five people, and the other three people chuck chicken into the pot. People walk around pouring drinks, and usually some poor soul (usually a mother-ish figure) spends the whole evening cooking fro other people and not eating; and some lazy folks refuse to eat the prawns unless their sisters shell them, and then let it all boil down to a tasty gum at the bottom of the pot.
Sounds about right.
Then we went to a friend's house for tea, which mean homemade cookies, tea, corn, sunflower seeds, and fun conversation. I played with the little firebrand kidlet (he of the Scotch tape mummification, stapler disassembly laptop running-over, and preserved egg wall-splatting). He's much mellowed now that he's almost five, and only dragged me out of my chair to the floor once. ;-) Banamum gave him a Hot Wheels Motocross and he and I built a Duplo masterpiece of a garage for it.
Banamum's friend Auntie H came home with us to see my house, and we ended up in Phase 2 of theological discussion and professional tales from 11:45 until 03:30. Then I drove her to the Holiday Inn (it was cold even for me, but Banadad wanted the defogger to work right.
Well, I'm back.