Tuesday, October 17, 2006

你不明白这说什么

Last night I ate at a 四川餐馆 (Sichuan Restaurant). (Sichuan is a region in China that is known for its extremely spicy food.) It was a bold move for me. It was the first time I went by myself into a restaurant that did not have an English menu or anyone who worked there that could understand English. I knew I was absolutely on my own. Maybe it was because it was a Sichuan restaurant it had different dishes than I had ever seen before, but I actually had a lot more trouble reading the menu than I anticipated. For most of the dishes, I could read maybe 1/2 of the characters, but that wasn't really enough to know what the dish was.

I ended up ordering 麻婆豆腐 (Ma Po Tofu). It was different than I had ever had before. It was extremely spicy, but not uncomfortable at all. I couldn't really define the feeling at all. It felt as if my mouth had fallen asleep. My tongue and lips were tingling like they had pins and needles. It actually felt quite pleasant, but incredibly spicy at the same time. It was a pretty crazy feeling.

I talked to my language teacher later that night. He said that the first word, 麻 ('Ma'), means 'numb'. There's a certain kind of spicy pepper that they use that achieves this feeling. It's absolutely bizarre, but the food was incredible.

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