Hot and sour soup is a lot like chili; every family has their own recipe, and each family thinks that theirs is the best.
When I was in the local Chinese market perusing the mushrooms I asked one of the other shoppers, a tiny and ancient woman half my height whose etched wrinkles framed a friendly smile, where the wood ear mushrooms were.
“What are you using them for?”
“Hot and sour soup,” I replied.
“What? You don’t want those. Here,” she grabbed a bag of dried shiitake, “use these.”
“No! You don’t want those for hot and sour soup!” cried another, more stout lady behind me. She said something in Cantonese to the first lady before grabbing a fresh bunch of enoki mushrooms and throwing them in my basket. “This is better.”
Soon, nine women were having an all out argument in the middle of the aisle.