March 09, 2006
One bite into the chili-strewn dish known as Water Boiled Fish, and your mouth explodes. Your forehead erupts in beads of sweat, eyes water, the nose runs, and the tongue and lips go prickly.
Sichuan food isnít just hot and spicy. Some of it is numbing.
Hardly anywhere else in China does one encounter such innocent-looking but searing food. Nor can one find a people who eat blisteringly hot food with such gusto. …
Locals say some discomfort is to be expected. At the end of one Sichuan meal, a waitress inquired how a foreigner liked the food. Told that it was, er, special, she offered an apt summation.
ďThe consuming of Sichuan food is both painful and happy together!Ē she said, trotting off.
Iím reminded of a Cajun-born friendís description of the Crawdad Delight served at the Old Venice Pizza Company on the main square of Oxford, Mississippi (a good-eatiní little town if there ever was one; and while there, donít forget to drive to the Old Taylor Grocery in Taylor, too): ďSometimes itís too hot, you know when itís so hot it makes your lips numb, and down where Iím from when itís too hot, thatís when itís jesí right!Ē
SICHUANESE WATER BOILED FISH
Posted by Wayne Uff at March 09, 2006 06:30 AM
back around 1986 or so i spent several months living and working in the french quarter of new orleans. during that time i used to hang out at this family-owned restaurant/bar that looked like someone's chintz-curtained living room [actually, that's the look a lot of places in the south used to go for, before all the corporate theme park style chain restaurants bought up all the land for their Riverwalks and such...] anyways, i recall that instead of the usual peanuts, or popcorn which was even more typical, the bar snacks this place served was a big old salad bowl heaped high with spicy crawdads, gleaming and dark oxblood red and heads intact. used to be if you ate one of those suckers you could lose the skin off the roof of your mouth, and naturally you'd have to buy a pitcher of beer to dull the pain. sometimes they'd leave the bowl on the windowsill and passersby would reach through the window and grab one - a far better advertisement than a sandwich board. real cajun/creole cuisine, and not the fake shit you get up north, definitely carries a bit of that pain mixed with pleasure.
Any blog that discusses a dish that sounds wonderful and looks even better in the picture and does not post a recipe should be shunned for a week.
The reason is I couldn't find the recipe, despite hard looking.
See you next week!
Uh, I was only threatening shunning.
My late husband used to make a dish he called Chinese Chili that resembled the picture. It had a chicken broth base and was seasoned with ginger and anise, among other things. Into the broth, he tossed shrimp, pork, squid, and the like. And, oh yeah, there were also various vegetables.
I'll have to look and see if I have the recipe anywhere. Meals have gone downhill here at the House of Joy since his departure.
You look hard for that recipe!
One of the sights I need to see in this lifetime is the square of Oxford, MS.
From high school my favorite novelist was Faulkner. In one college course we read eight Faulkner novels and a book of criticism in a ten-week term, So for about two and a half months I spent about four hours a day in Yoknapatawpha County. Then I did an independent study project that in the end involved reading the Snopes trilogy twice. I love me some Faulkner. I learned more from him than from any other writer of fiction.
Just the mention of the square brings up all the historical associations a Jefferson resident might have.
Then I came across Pynchon… But still, the thing about Faulkner is what he said in his Nobel Prize speech is worth writing about: the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself.