Chinese Hot Pot for Thanksgiving Dinner

Informant is a 20 year old, Chinese, college student studying at the University of Southern California. Both of his parents are Chinese.

Informant’s Tradition: So for Thanksgiving dinner, originally when my parents were struggling students, they had like a slow cooker. They’d just boil water in a slow cooker, and they would boil meat and add sauces, like a hot pot. Back then, it would just be cheaper stuff, and they would mix it with peanut butter sauces, because they didn’t have the money to get the sesame sauce for normal hot pots. My mom learned to make a peanut butter sauce that I prefer it to the normal store bought sesame sauce now.

Collector: Does your family do this every Thanksgiving?

Informant: Yeah, for Thanksgiving, and sometimes for Christmas too. But usually for Thanksgiving.

Collector: Did your parents teach you how to make it too?

Informant: Not really, but from observing it seems pretty simple. Like I would be able to make it if I wanted to.

Collector: How long do you think they have been doing this for?

Informant: 20 years. They’ve been in the States for around 20 years now.

Collector: What do you think it means?

Informant: I think it’s not only a nice way to like, express our own culture, but also like a way to acknowledge our history, like we couldn’t sometimes afford turkey back in the day. It has meaning because of the significance back then.

Collector: Why do you guys like to make this?

Informant: I guess it’s because we enjoy hot pot more than we like turkey. But also because there’s a history to it, and it’s also fulfilling your own cultural values.

I think that with the “melting pot” nature in the United States, people from all over the world can come to America and make it their home. By bringing their culture with them, and infusing it into American holidays and traditions, people of different backgrounds can make their holiday celebrations the best of both worlds.