As Jonathan and I walked down to the Wenshu Temple in Chengdu we saw alluring pancakes being fried on the street. Usually we steer away from street food but they looked so appealing. What the hell, let’s grab a couple! They sizzled so beautifully on the wok. I only could imagine how divine they could taste. “They are with pork”, said a local man and I began to salivate. I just couldn’t wait to bite into it.
Three bites later and my mouth tastes metallic. I lose feeling in my tongue and I begin to feel as if I’m eating something laced with drugs. Am I suddenly becoming allergic to something? When I try to wash down the taste of awful, water just tastes sour. What the hell did I just eat?
Welcome to the Sichuan numbing spice, also known as Sichuan Peppers. Despite the name it is not at all related to black or chilli pepper, but it burns. It burns more than a plate of this.
In Sichuan cuisine the husk of the pepper is used whole and in other regions it is used as a fine ground powder in the five spice powder. I have never encountered the numbing spice before coming to China. I’m not fan. I don’t mind spicy food, but this tastes a little too weird for me. Call me a traditionalist but I enjoy tasting what I’m eating, putting something in food that numbs the flavour instead of enhancing it is a bit odd to me.
To each his own. So, what do you think about the “numbing spice”?