Category Archives: Marin Ekstrom

Glimpses of Iceland: A Brief Foray into the Land of Fire and Ice – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Glimpses of Iceland: A Brief Foray into the Land of Fire and Ice – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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The Shrimp That Became a Whale: Impressions of South Korea and a Commendation to the Resilient Korean Spirit – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The Shrimp That Became a Whale: Impressions of South Korea and a Commendation to the Resilient Korean Spirit – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

[1) An ancient Korean music and dance performance 2) Masks used in traditional Korean plays and performances 3) A historical Korean household]

Korea is known by the moniker “a shrimp caught between two whales”. This nickname describes how Korea has historically been eclipsed by its two neighbors, China and Japan, in terms of geography, cultural influence, military prowess, and other such factors. Furthermore, several of my colleagues who had previously traveled there described it as “the bridge between China and Japan” or “the middle ground between China and Japan.” In my and others’ experiences, China and Japan are two very different places from one another (in some regards, even polar opposites!), and they considered Korea as the halfway point or blend between them. I kept these descriptions in mind when I visited South Korea, as I was anxious to see whether they rang true or if my expectations would be totally blown away. Now that my journey has concluded, I believe that framing Korea in terms of its relations with China and Japan are true in certain respects and can help one better understand it. However, it overlooks the unique characteristics of Korean culture that make it its own civilization. My assessment has its limitations, as I can only give my perspective based on visiting South Korea. Yet overall, I admire how Korea as a whole seems to have incorporated Chinese and Japanese influences while resiliently maintaining its own distinctive identity, making it a place of both reverence and fascination.

In the past few decades, Korea has skyrocketed into prominence on the world stage due to the emergence of South Korea as a major economic and cultural power, as well as controversy over the North Korean regime’s actions. Yet for centuries, the pursuit to maintain a Korean identity has been an intense struggle, to say the least. A distinctive Korean nation has existed since recorded antiquity, but spent a good portion of its early years divided into several states. China, the unquestionable hegemon of East Asia during that time period, tried to invade Korea several times. Yet in a truly David and Goliath effort, Korea managed to fend off Chinese forces time and time again. Although Korea was able to maintain its sovereignty for the most part, China remained a key presence in the nation. Korea served as a tributary state for China for centuries, and Chinese culture heavily influenced the development of Korean culture: Korea adopted both Buddhism and Confucianism, Chinese aesthetics permeated into everything from architecture to clothing styles, Chinese vocabulary entered into the Korean language, etc. Korea still hung on to its own identity despite Chinese influence, and gradually the previously fractured Korean states united as one Korean state. In the later half of the past millennium, as Chinese decline coincided with the rise of Japan, the latter decided to assert its regional hegemonic ambitions by staking claim to Korea. After a number of attempted invasions, Japan finally colonized Korea from 1910-1945, and left behind a mixed historical legacy that still raises debate and discussion to this day. On one hand, Japan encouraged industrial development and mass culture that laid the foundation for the development of contemporary South Korea (and, to a certain extent, North Korea). However, Japan tried to promote, sometimes violently, the Japanese language and cultural traditions at the expense of their Korean counterparts. Korea suffered immensely during the Second World War, with thousands of men being conscripted into the Japanese Army, while thousands of women were forced into being “comfort women”, or sex slaves for the Japanese Army. Japan’s loss in the war resulted into Korea’s independence for its former colonial holding. However, these circumstances directly led to another bloody conflict, the Korean War, as the communist-affiliated North Korea, backed by the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, sought to seize control over the more Western democratic-leaning South Korea. Ultimately, the war resulted in the division of the two Koreas, a situation that remains in place to this day. Both sides of the Korean peninsula were decimated after enduring years of relentless warfare and tragedy. North Korea has not recovered well from this trauma, as it is controlled by one of the world’s most isolated and authoritarian regimes, and is frequently dogged by reports of unwarranted nuclear activity, mass human rights abuses, and other issues. Yet South Korea, like the proverbial phoenix, was able to rise from the ashes to success. After years of muddling along amidst continued poverty and suffering, South Korea experienced an “economic miracle” after reorienting itself as an export-driven economy. This prosperity continues to grow and expand, and South Korea today scores at or near the top in terms of such indicators as wealth, technological sophistication, academic success, and standard of living. Thus, after years of trials and tribulation, Korea has finally entered a period of national self-determination, and the South in particular has proven remarkably adept at forging ahead on its own path.


[4) A Korean porter at the turn of the 20th century 5) Chinese influences in Korea: the entryway to a Buddhist shrine, which features Chinese characters and mythological creature motifs 6) Japanese influences in Korea: a record detailing Japan’s invasion of Korea in 1592]

During my own visit to Busan, South Korea, I observed signs of the complex international interweavings that make up the fabric of Korean history. Chinese characters, which also once served as the Korean language’s writing system, adorned historical sites. Mythological motifs traditionally associated with China, such as the dragon and the lunar calendar zodiac animals, appeared on everything from fridge magnets to temple statues. A few museums showed Japanese language textbooks used in schools during the colonial occupation period, and anime-influenced cartoons decorated magazine covers and key chains. In recent years, the United States has also more heavily influenced Korea (or South Korea, at least), as everything from fashion trends, music genres, and shopping malls all ring reminiscent of American culture. Despite all of this, Korea has carved out and determinedly clung onto the idea of its own independent nationhood. This too proved evident while vacationing in Busan. Signs, books, and posters all featured hangul, the phonetic Korean writing system that replaced Chinese characters in the 1400s. Dining out at a traditional Korean restaurant offered hundreds of tiny side dishes, flat, metal chopsticks, generous servings of spicy cabbage, or kimchi, and smoky, savory sauces and flavorings. The country’s K-Pop songs and K-Drama TV shows, which have exploded in popularity the world over (including China and Japan!) blared over TV screens and radios. South Korea has thus been able to skillfully combine all of these elements to fashion a mosaic of cultural influences while remaining a place all its own.

Korea has essentially been the quintessential underdog throughout its history, and has valiantly fought back from Chinese and Japanese efforts to stamp out its sense of nationhood. Today, the perseverance has paid off, as South Korea is one of the strongest and most influential nations in the world, and (for better or worse) North Korea is also a key player in global affairs. The Korean “shrimp” now swims along China and Japan as a “whale” itself, and instead of just being a bridge for its two neighbors, Korea today is building bridges across the world in an effort of mutual exchange and inspiration.

[7) The bustling industrial development of 20th century Korea 8) The countless side dishes and delectable flavors of Korean cuisine 9) Modern-day Busan, South Korea, with its buildings plastered with Hangul signs ]

Marin serves as an editor for The North Star Reports.

Works Consulted

“Brief Summary of Korean History.” Kscpp.net. Korean Spirit and Culture Promotion Project. Accessed August 28, 2016. http://www.kscpp.net/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=rTE6VQ2GHSc=.

Harris, Scott Duke. “South Korea: The Little Dynamo That Sneaked up on the World.” Csmonitor.com. The Christian Science Monitor. May 19, 2013. Accessed August 28, 2016.
http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2013/0519/South-Korea-The- little-dynamo-that-sneaked-up-on-the-world.

J. J. “Stuck in the Middle.” Banyan: Asia. Economist.com. The Economist. April 12, 2013. Accessed August 28, 2016. http://www.economist.com/blogs/banyan/2013/04/korea-chinese-history.

“Korea as a Colony of Japan, 1910-1945.” Asia for Educators. Columbia University. 2009. Accessed August 28, 2016. http://afe.easia.columbia.edu/main_pop/kpct/kp_koreaimperialism.htm.


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports. Eleni Birhane and Matthew Breeze, Assistant Managing Editors, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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From Anime to Actuality: The Evolution of My Conceptualization of Japan – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

From Anime to Actuality: The Evolution of My Conceptualization of Japan – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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[A traditional shrine with Tokyo Tower in the background]

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[Tokyo Tower at night]

Like many children who came of age in the late 1990s/ early 2000s, I grew up on a steady diet of cartoons and video games. This time period coincided with the rise of Japanese media in mainstream American pop culture. As a result, Japanese TV shows and video games like Sailor Moon, Dragonball, and Pokemon became childhood staples. I cannot say exactly why I was personally drawn to such programs. On one hand, they were a bit strange with their giant-eyed characters, exaggerated artistic effects (i.e. over-the-top facial expressions) and fantastical plots. On the other hand, they seemed more whimsical, imaginative, and emotionally heartfelt than their American counterparts, and thus I became a devotee of Japanese media from an early age.

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[New friends at a seafood restaurant in Ohara-Isumi City]

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[Convenience store rice balls and other goodies]

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[Japanese dolls at the Tokyo-Narita Airport]

As I entered middle school, I descended deeper and deeper into otaku-hood (Note: an otaku is someone who is a just bit too interested in Japanese media, somewhat like Star Trek and Trekkies in the USA…). By default, I also became interested in Japan, the birthplace of such media masterpieces, and began to learn more about Japanese culture in the process: popular foods, common social norms and traditions, funky technology, etc. While these efforts did teach me quite a bit about Japan, my stronger interest in cartoons and video games distorted my conceptualization of Japan. Instead of seeing as a real place with real people, I chiefly envisioned it as a “magical cartoon utopia.” After reaching an apex of awkwardness in sixth grade (with my otaku-hood being a major, though certainly not singular, contributor to that affliction), I realized that I would need to tame my inner fan girl in order to survive junior high and high school. Part of that mentality switch was also the process of growing up: the TV shows and video games served their respective purposes and it was time to let go and move on to more sophisticated interests. For better or for worse, I lumped Japan as a whole into that mindset. Save a few fits of nostalgia where I tried (badly) to study the Japanese language, I viewed Japan as an impossibly cool place, but one that was more of a relic of childhood interests as opposed to a serious area of study and scholarship.

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[A wild Pikachu appeared!]

Fast-forward to my first year out of college: I was working in China and had the opportunity to travel during the winter break. While there was an embarrassment of riches in terms of travel options, my inner otaku influenced me to book a ticket to the “magical cartoon utopia” of Japan.
I ended up spending six days in Japan and it turned out to be an incredible experience. Unsurprisingly, part of the reason why I enjoyed the experience so much was that I was able to geek out over my childhood obsessions in their natural habitat (I’m looking at you, Pokemon key chains and Sailor Moon facemasks). What struck me the most from my journey there, however, was that I finally learned how to see Japan as a “real” place…and still appreciate it from that angle. First of all, I had the incredible opportunity to stay with my former roommate Risako and her family while I was there. I was showered with unbelievable friendliness and hospitality, which included tons of delicious food, movie nights watching Princess Mononoke and Whisper of the Heart, and lessons in day-to-day Japanese etiquette (i.e. phrases to say when coming/leaving the house, placing your shoes a certain way for good luck, etc). I relished the opportunity to spend time with them and other Japanese people and experience their customs and lifestyles. I also heard fragments of memories and histories that offered their own personal stories while reflecting aspects of national collective memory. Additionally, I had the chance to walk through the cities of Tokyo, Chiba, and Ohara-Isumi City, and saw the blend of contemporary, cutting-edge buildings next to ancient shrines and temples—thus reflecting Japan’s symbiotic respect for past, present, and future. For all of these reasons, I was fascinated by the “real” Japan and embraced it for the duration of my time there.

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[Risako and I with some kimono girls]

Having had time to mull over my time in Japan, the most important impact of that trip was how it gave me a more well-rounded, mature view of Japan. Granted, six days is a brief window of time to visit such a complex nation and I have no delusions of grandeur that I am now an expert on the place. However, the experience has helped me to better embrace my childhood love of Japanese cartoons and video games as my gateway drug to the Land of the Rising Sun. Sure, to love a country for its cartoon offerings could be seen as a bit shallow and silly. But much of Japanese media reflects the fascinating cultural undertones of its home base: for example, it may feature characters celebrating a tea ceremony or include characters from Japanese mythology. In other words, they serve as pop cultural ambassadors to familiarize and attract people from all over the world to Japanese culture. At the same time, I am glad that I better recognize and respect Japan as a real place and not just a glorified cartoon land. The country has an incredible history of both isolation and global integration, and has done both commendable and catastrophic actions that still have ramifications in Japan and the world at large today. It is still arguably the key power in the Asia-Pacific region (though it’s in tight competition with China) and remains one of the most important global powers to this day. And simply from a personal perspective, the sites are cool and the people are super nice, which makes me happy that it’s an actual place to visit. If you ever have the chance, I definitely recommend a visit to Japan, and please revere it both for its impact on the worlds of imagination and reality.

Marin Ekstrom serves as an editor for The North Star Reports

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Georgian Food in Russia – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Georgian Food in Russia – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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[A plate of peppers with walnut paste and pomegranate seeds]

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[Welcome to Georgia: even little tchkatches display legendary Georgian hospitality]

When people think of food in Russia, they tend to think of simple and hearty fare, i.e. borscht with sour cream, rye bread, and caviar. However, if you have the opportunity to travel to Russia, locals and foreigners alike will most likely recommend Georgian food above “traditional” Russian fare. Georgia is a small nation nestled in the Caucasus Mountains that used to be part of the Soviet Union before achieving independence in 1991. Due to these close geographical and cultural ties, Georgian dishes spread throughout Russia and the former USSR and are still beloved throughout the region to this day. Russians view Georgian food as a jazzier alternative to their relatively simple fare; the appeal is somewhat comparable to the zest that some Americans have for “spicier” Mexican and Central American offerings. That reverence is highly justifiable, as Georgian food uses an eclectic array of ingredients to create many unbelievable delicious dishes.

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[Dolmas (meat or cheese wrapped in grape leaves) slathered in yogurt and chives]

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[A tomato and vegetable stew ]

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[Meat and veggie kebabs (and yes: that is a real flame in the center of the plate)]

First and foremost, no Georgian dinner table is complete without bountiful stacks of khachapuri, or delicious cheese-stuffed bread, and copious amounts of Georgian wine. Side dishes that often feature eggplants, peppers, walnuts and walnut pastes, pomegranate seeds, yogurt, and coriander round out the dining options. While Georgian food provides a number of vegetarian entrees, many Georgians revere spicy meat kebabs, or sashliki, as the highlight of the meal. Desserts such as baklava, dried fruits, or pelamushi (grape pudding) help diners end their meals on a sweet note. In addition to the actual food itself, Georgian culture stresses incredible generosity and hospitality towards its guests. When you go to a Georgian restaurant, the waiters make sure that neither your cup nor your plate are ever empty. Furthermore, they give you generous portions and encourage (if not borderline threaten) you to eat as much as possible! While these attitudes can make the dining experience physically painful, the emphasis on graciousness and conscientiousness makes the food and atmosphere even more appealing. With all of these factors in mind, I definitely recommend trying Georgian fare if the opportunity ever arises, as it proves for a truly outstanding culinary and cultural experience.

Marin Ekstrom serves as a senior editor for The North Star Reports.


Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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An Introduction to the Chinese Hotpot – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

An Introduction to the Chinese Hotpot – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

image-1-mehotpot

[The hot pot broths]

In China, going out to eat is a beloved activity that occurs on a regular basis. One of the most popular options is heading out to a hot pot place. As the name hot pot suggests, this style of cuisine is essentially a soup-centric style of fondue: you dip an assortment of food mix-ins into boiling pots of broth. It has a long and esteemed position in Chinese culture that spans about 1,000 years. While the details of its origin story are not entirely clear, many credit the Mongols for the creation of hot pot. In fact, one colorful anecdote claims:

[During an episode of the Mongolian Invasion of China, a few Mongol horsemen]…were so bent on conquest that they couldn’t be bothered to carry cooking utensils. Many didn’t even bother to carry food, since the villages they were conquering usually provided everything they needed. Story has it that eventually the Mongolians found themselves facing the Great Wall of China with no idea of how they might cross it. They settled down for a siege, but soon became hungry. None of the riders had cooking utensils, so they eventually decided to boil some water in a helmet. Bits of food were tossed in until they were cooked, and the hot pot was born. (akm20myonmi, 2016).

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[Vera, Bree, Gao Sheng, and I having hot pot together.]

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[Hot pot meat and seafood mix-ins]

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[Hot pot vegetable]

Whether that story is legitimate or just a legend, hotpot quickly caught on in China and developed into an extremely popular form of cuisine that is still widely enjoyed today. However, it is not a simple meal to prepare; rather, hotpot features a series of steps that need to be completed before indulging in it. When a group of people goes out for hotpot, they must first order a few big pots of broth (in my own experiences, my friends and I usually picked a tomato-based broth and a spicy broth heaving over with peppers). The dining table come equipped with burners, so once the broths arrive, the group of diners lets them sit on the burners until they start to boil. While they wait for that to happen (because as the old mantra says, “a watched pot never boils”), they select their food mix-ins and dipping sauces. They can choose a huge assortment of foods to have with their hot pot; their options range from greens and vegetables, thin slices of meat, seafood, tofu, noodles, dumplings, breads…really, the sky is the limit. Similarly, they can customize the dipping sauces by brewing together creative concoctions at a sauce bar. Ingredients for dipping sauces include tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chives, and even more garnishes that truly allow them to be mix-and-match maestros. Once the food mix-ins and sauces are gathered, the group plops the foodstuffs into the boiling broths until they are thoroughly cooked through. Then they pick up the submerged foods with chopsticks or spoons, dip them in their tailor-made sauces, and then gobble them up. They rinse and repeat this process, often with the accompaniment of white rice and plum juice to counteract excessive spiciness, until all the food runs out or the diners become too full to finish everything off (the latter scenario is much more common).

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[Hot pot tofu, bread, and noodle mix-ins]

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[Hot pot dried noodles]

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[White rice and a bowl of dipping sauce]

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[PLUM JUICE!!!]

Hotpot is a very fun meal to eat due to its limitless possibilities, as every visit offers the opportunity to try new broths, new food mix-ins, and create new sauces. But even more than that, it serves as a great social activity. Hot pot works much better with large groups of people in order to vary the types and quantities of the ingredients, and is just simply a great way to bring people together to chat and catch up while they eat delicious food together. I personally had several wonderful opportunities to share hot pot with several of my closest friends, which served as some of the best bonding experiences during my time in China. I hope that many more people, whether in China or elsewhere, can further learn about and engage in this tradition so that they can try new food while making great friends!

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[The dipping sauce bar: truly an embarrassment of riches]

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[The hot pot is boiled and ready to be eaten!]

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[Cheesy hot pot: an intriguing spin on traditional hotpot]

Works Consulted

akm20myonmi. “10 Unique Facts To Know About Chinese Hot Pot. Tabelog.us.TABElog. 10 March 08, 2016. Accessed July 28, 2016. http://www.tabelog.us/articles/10-unique-facts-to-know-about-chinese-hot-pot.

Vogel, Mark R. “HOT POT!” FoodReference.com. March 24, 2010. Accessed July 28, 2016. http://www.foodreference.com/html/chinese-hot-pot-a310.html.

Wu, Annie. “Chinese Hotpot — A Popular Chinese Dish You Should Try.” Chinahighlights.com. China Highlights. July 21, 2016. Accessed July 28, 2016. http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-food/hotpot.htm.

Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu

See also, our Facebook page with curated news articles at http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports

The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy (http://NorthStarReports.org) is a student edited and student authored open access publication centered around the themes of global and historical connections. Our abiding philosophy is that those of us who are fortunate enough to receive an education and to travel our planet are ethically bound to share our knowledge with those who cannot afford to do so. Therefore, creating virtual and actual communities of learning between college and K-12 classes are integral to our mission. In three years we have published over 250 articles covering all habitable continents and a variety of topics ranging from history and politics, food and popular culture, to global inequities to complex identities. These articles are read by K-12 and college students. Our student editors and writers come from all parts of the campus, from Nursing to Biology, Physical Therapy to Business, and remarkably, many of our student editors and writers have long graduated from college. We also have writers and editors from other colleges and universities. In addition to our main site, we also curate a Facebook page dedicated to annotated news articles selected by our student editors (http://www.facebook.com/NorthStarReports). This is done by an all volunteer staff. We have a frugal cash budget, and we donate much of our time and talent to this project. The North Star Reports is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. For a brief summary, please see the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History, at: http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2013/1305/Opening-The-Middle-Ground-Journal.cfm

Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

(c) 2012-present The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy http://NorthStarReports.org ISSN: 2377-908X The NSR is sponsored and published by Professor Hong-Ming Liang, NSR Student Editors and Writers, with generous support from The Department of History and Politics of The College of St. Scholastica, and the scholarly Middle Ground Journal. See Masthead for our not-for-profit educational open- access policy. K-12 teachers, if you are using these reports for your classes, please contact editor-in-chief Professor Liang at HLIANG (at) css.edu

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Filed under Marin Ekstrom, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang