When someone says that Chinese food is spicy, that could mean anything. Depending on the part of China the level of spicyness varies, a lot! But basically if you are talking the spicy talk in relation to the red nation, you are mostly refering to the area of Sichuan.
Sichuan cuisine can be extremely spicy, but again for those who don’t know. Sichuan cuisine also includes a lot of non-spicy dishes. Just that the ones that happen to be, are well know througout the country as well as abroad. And they happen to be pretty damn spicy if cooked well!
But it’s no meal for Masochists, especially as most Chinese food is not that spicy compared to other chili-loving countries. Such as Mexico for example. But there is really something about Sichuan which extends in arms to build the spirit and guts of the whole nation. Which is far from the Buddhist vegetarian style for example, that is also famous from Sichuan. Spicy food is more of an attitude in China and depending on your feelings you choose more or less spicy dishes. While there might be as many tendencies as there are Chinese families, the bottom line is that too much of one style is no good. It will cause an imbalance of the “Yin & Yang”, which will lead to inner fire as they call it. So inorder to enjoy spicy food, you need to eat mild food. To eat meat, you need to eat vegetables. That is the circle of life and the spirit of being spicy is well included in this delicious mix of overwhelming the senses.
Of course if you sit down with a group of Chinese people and especially if they are drunk.. some will play with you and try to test you how you can handle a spicy dish. But not to worry, the vegetables and mild food will come to respect the health of a well balanced combination. What you should be more worried of however, is alcohol but that’s another story for another post.
Last but not least, I will leave you with some of our favourite Sichuan dishes. Like Mapo Tofu, Sichuan hotpot and Dan dan noodles! Just to say those names is making my mouth water.. so better stop there and challenge anyone to actually go to Chengdu yourself and test it out for yourself. You’ll be pleasently surprised for sure!