Culinary Nostalgia and Fantasy: Dipping the Post-socialist China in Hot Pot
What is a hot pot? As a Chinese cooking method, prepared with a simmering pot of soup stock at the dining table, containing a variety of East Asian foodstuffs and ingredients, hot pot is not just one dish. This thesis is aimed at using the booming hot pot catering industry in over the last three decades as an entry point to examine the shift from the socialist asceticism to the capitalist abundance in contemporary urbanities in PRC and attempt to address the following questions: first, in which ways does a hot pot express the post-socialist Chinese society? Second, how does the transformation and increasing popularity of hot pot represent the modern middle-class lifestyle? Third, what can hot pot tell us about the spread of a food trend via mass media and popular culture? Combining the ethnographical engagement with the physical restaurant space exemplified by Dong Lai Shun and Hai Di Lao, and an anthropological approach towards the cultural and historical representations of hot pot, this thesis argues that hot pot represents the postmodern feature in the post-socialist China.
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