Monday, 14 November 2011
A taste of Sichuan spice
Once we'd crossed pandas off of our list, it was time to tackle the spicy food for which Sichuan is commonly known. The favourite local dish is 'hotpot', so we scouted out a recommended local restaurant and after waiting a short while for a table (this place was popular - always a good sign!), we settled in, rumbling stomachs increased by the delicious smells around us.
The hotpot is a simple concept - a big spicy broth with some veg into which different meats are cooked, using the broth to boil and flavour the meat. We were able to pick our meat - choosing skewers for which we would will billed at the end, and cook it all ourselves at our table. There were some interesting choices on offer... whole fish skewered down the middle, from mouth to tail, bits of stomach on sticks, and a big whole brain wobbling on a plate from which you could have a slice.
Nothing was labelled in English, and being slathered in more spice it was difficult to tell what we were picking up. Tiny nibbles once cooked helped (the stomach was soon discarded once we'd had a taste...), and also prevented me from burning my mouth too much - although perhaps the gallons of drink I quaffed helped with that too. After a while the chili sort of coats your mouth, numbing it a little, but it's definitely a hot experience!
Pandas and good food - what more could a person want?!