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Spicing up the Meal

Posted by kurtwood on November 2nd, 2011

I tend to be quite the homebody. I rarely leave the farm and even more rarely eat food that I didn’t grow. Sure, every Wednesday I travel to the city to deliver cheese and I always have lunch out and usually dinner, but it tends to be nice, precious, local food. And rarely do I eat meat from a source that I don’t know.

This does not come from a place of arrogance at all. Simply I have cows that need to be milked daily, there is a tedious ferry boat between me and any tasty restaurants. And I have a freezer or three filled with great meat.

This Wednesday, I went a bit out of bounds. I was meeting friends for dinner and I took the responsibility of choosing the restaurant. Usually it would be the latest, newest, sustainable boite. The day before though I had been reading Fuchsia Dunlop’s book Shark’s Fin and Sichuan Pepper, A Sweet-Sour Memoir of Eating in China. I rather like the book and decided I needed Sichuan food for dinner. The designated dinner spot was now Sichuan Cuisine Restaurant on Jackson Street in Seattle. I usually only go there on Christmas Day but it sounded like a nice change on a hot, sunny evening..

(I must note here that there is no way I will every be one of those sad food bloggers that snaps of picture of every course and every plate, only to post it the next morning with their tired commentary.)

There is really no point while eating at a restaurant like SCR to be all pissy about the provenance of the food stuffs. It is tasty. Spicy usually and always interesting. It also tastes nothing like the Euro-centric food of my white-boy table.

The kicker though was the end of the meal. The rather charming waiter brought out a small dish of Sichuan peppers. Somehow I had never eaten these by themselves. All around the table we chewed on them, letting them explode in our mouths, numbing our collective tongues and cheeks and throats. It was truly a revelation. Not because it was a unique feeling necessarily; the attorney next to me commented that it reminded him of gumming coke in the eighties, but rather because it was a different sensation. More profound that just great buttered broccoli, or beautifully braised beef, or a gooey, ripe cheese.

I drove back to the farm that evening, watching the sun set from the ferry boat and realizing that sticking with the same great, healthy, well raised, food is great and all, but it just isn’t that exciting. Sichuan peppers exploding on my tongue: thats exciting.