I just fell for a sale on a hitherto unavailable product in Loblaws. Chinese Fondue in the freezer section seemed to be a bargain. I knew about Chinese fondue from a long time ago (my other life) and I grabbed it. It was called Mongolian hot pot, or simply hot pot, and I used to serve it for a casual dinner. At the time it seemed easy. Later, as a traveller, I had it in Xian (or maybe Shanghai?) at a restaurant that had hot tables, that is, tables each with a built-in pot already bubbling with broth. It's like a beef fondue or a cheese fondue, as you probably know: you cook the food (meat, chicken, seafood, bread) in the hot liquid, be it oil, for the meats, melted cheese for the bread, or chicken broth for the Chinese ingredients. Then you eat them with various sauces, except the cheese fondue; the cheese mixture, of course, is the sauce. And with the Chinese version you drink the broth as a second course; it tastes fantastic after cooking all that meat, or chicken or seafood. Well, you know all that. So do I. So did I.
But I was careless, not noticing what was in the package I picked up. I just looked at it. just now; all it is, is meat, and chicken, accompanied by those dreadful instructions "cook until done." Oh dear. I need broth, and veggies, and sauces, and I have invited a friend to come for dinner tomorrow night. It's a good thing I know what I'm doing, sort of. The bad news is that I don't have much time.
Was it Horace who said that that the test of a good general was how he behaved under fire? I quoted that in my first cookbook, because I thought it was a good analogy for a resourceful cook: how she behaves under fire. So tomorrow me and my hot pot will be under fire. Fortunately, I still have my fondue pot, and forks.