Have a look at the spiciest meal I have ever had. The rabbit (the dish in the foreground) was nothing in comparison to the spicy chicken dish, which was the first food that ever brought tears to my eyes. It’s amazing what you find in your cupboards when you’re moving: in this case, a CD full of photos a friend from my REU in Beijing put together for all of us after we returned home.
It has been, oh, more than five years since that trip, but as I explained here, it was probably responsible for my current obsession with food. Despite my father’s adventurous (and usually experimental) talents in the kitchen, it wasn’t until I traveled all the way to Beijing that I started realizing that I had not yet stepped outside of the boundaries of my comfortable culinary existence.
I guess this is one of the reasons I’m enjoying Fushia Dunlop’s Shark’s Fins and Sichuan Pepper: A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China. I find familiarity in her initial explorations of Sichuan cuisine, and share her fascination with the unfamiliar flavors and textures that she encounters along the way. I’m only about halfway through the book, but it already has me googling “Mandarin lessons, Sydney” and wondering if it’ll be easier to find cooking classes that I can actually afford to attend in a bigger city. Obviously, I should wait to review the book properly, when I’m finished, but for now, all I can say is that her story has me thinking about adventures that I would probably have written off as too expensive, or silly, just a few years ago. Now? I can’t wait to try something new, learn some new languages, explore a new cuisine… Oh, and plan some trips.
Yes, there will be trips — there is no doubt about that.