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!”