With China’s emphasis on beauty of appearance, it’s always worth taking a look up whenever exploring any place new.
The essentials: A bowl for flavored cooling oil (so you don’t scorch your tongue on food fresh from the cooking oil), chopsticks, tea, and a napkin. This last item, you’ll need most of all.
Sichuan Food Groups: Tea, beer, and “hĕn là niúròu” (spiced beef wrapped around a whole red pepper, complete with seeds).
Note the fierce red of the outer rim of oil. Guess which one is the spicy stuff?
With beautifully decorated nooks like this one, you feel like you’re stepping back into ancient China.
Next trip–a splurge on the private dining room!
If ever you find yourself in Sichuan Province, China, hot pot is a must. In 2011, UNESCO named Chengdu (the capital city of Sichuan) a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, so you’re guaranteed to find some good grub, from the ubiquitous gōng bǎo jī dīng (Kung Pao Chicken) to hand-pulled noodles. But hot pot is a truly unique experience, and not just in terms of taste. (My first experience with hot pot actually had our cooking oil catch on fire at the table!)
Essentially fondue with boiling oil, the hot pot ritual begins when you order your choice of meats and veggies, ranging from meatballs and potato to goose intestines and lotus root. Then you dump your selection (raw at this point) into your choice of savory oil and/or spicy oil and let it simmer away.
Half the fun is in trying to dig your dinner back out of the oil once it’s finished cooking, with only the length of your chopsticks between your hand and a third degree burn. Continue reading “A Sichuan Necessity”
I’ve had a lot of “No”s in my life. Not necessarily other people telling me “No”, but me saying it to myself and to God. A few examples, you ask? Here’s but a small sampling of the many:
No, I’ll never live in a huge city. It’s too chaotic.
After college, my husband and I moved to Houston, a city with a metro population of 6.18 million (I LOVED it there). I now live in a Chinese city of approximately 14 million residents.
No, I’ll never live outside of Texas; I just love it too much to leave.
(Did I mention I currently live in China?)
No, I’ll never have an artistic job. They’re too impractical.
Currently, I work at an administrative job and most days I really like it. But full disclosure? It’s a day job, something for right now… while I work on making it as a novelist.
If I’m honest with you, most of the “No” barriers that my life has gone crashing through have seemed like “the end of life as I know it” (to quote P.S. I Love You). (The exception to this was the city-living bit; that one I got over pretty quickly!)
When I boarded that first flight for China, it felt like I was leaving my heart behind me on the tarmac. Continue reading “That one little word….”