Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Huajiao in a Baoji market

Almost three years ago now at the beginning of my stay in China I discovered a weird and wonderful spice that I'd never heard of before. Huajiao, or Sichuan pepper contains hydroxy-alpha-sanshool which leads to a tingly, numbing feeling and, along with the subtle clovey/lemony overtones makes for a rather addictive experience. A mapo dofu (麻婆豆腐) would be nothing without the use of a good handful of huajiao and the expat favourite, gongbao jiding (宫保鸡丁) would lose a vital dimension sichuan pepper-free.

Anyway, I'm writing this to link to this photo, taken in Baoji, Shaanxi province as I went hunting for the solar eclipse last month. I often found that markets were good places in China for getting shots of the street-sellers who were usually very happy to have their photo taken, given a few minutes of small-talk first.

Huajiao in Baoji

Right now, having arrived back here just a couple of days ago I'm having to stock up on food and having made a batch of humous which should last a good few days I have a chicken soup on the boil now. The local shops give away chicken carcasses for free and the pot is now full to overflowing with six carcasses. The smell is not helping my work!


Anonymous said...

Got me feeling hungry too! Any chance of some recipes?

Blake Stacey said...

The Sichuan pepper imported into the United States is heated to kill citrus canker bacteria. I think it also hurts the flavour. :-(

Anonymous said...

Biscuit - I'm in China!

Just about surviving. Loving the city, less of a culture shock than I eas expecting but I guess most big cities are going to have buildings, shops and offices. I have had, however, a few near misses with motorbikes on the pavement.
Food is amazing. I've eaten out 3 times and had some interesting stuff, some delicious stuff and some absolutely horrific stuff. Tendon, Tofu and Crab, and Bone in that order.
Sorry to miss you last week at the airport, I gather you enjoyed my eye burning story....
I've met some interesting English names too including Sunny Sun, Dolphin and Lizard. Sunny Sun being my favourite.

Unknown said...

Hi James, will try and get some down in the next few days.

Blake, huajiao has a very delicate flavour which is easily destroyed by being in the wrong conditions. I imagine that heating it to such a temperature that the bacteria are killed would also remove many elements of the taste.

Lizard, that's great to hear. Indeed Shanghai is about the most Western friendly city. The food in Shanghai is great! You have to get yourself along to a good Sichuan restaurant before you leave.

Indeed your eye-burning story was a corker, if only for the shear absurdity of it. Hope it's all cleared up now!

Will write more 'offline'

Take it easy,


Anonymous said...

Hi there Jon,

I doubt you remember me by now, for we haven`t got in touch for more than two years now, actually not since you left Southampton. It`s Shoaib here, your (a year junior) shep colleague from Pakistan. I have been following your enthralling blog off and on, but never really bothered to interact for some reason. But as they say, there`s always the first time!

I have kept myself abreast of your whereabouts and your physics, thanks to this blog, so I guess I should also update you a bit about the goings-on at my end. I finished from and left Southampton in February last year, managed to secure a tenure track position at one of the universities in Pakistan (yes, it is THAT easy there!) and stayed there for a year. Kept hunting for postdocs and after a long and tiring wait, got offered one at UNAM, Mexico city, and that is where I landed on Friday, 22nd August, 2008.

Looks like, as it is with you, destiny has chosen me to render some service to the Spanish language, without learning which, survival here is a bit of a tough ask. So that means I may be seeking your help every now and then :) Haven`t started taking classes yet, as the next course commences in October. Haven`t done any (particle) Physics in Pakistan; was mostly busy with teaching and administration there, so it is quite like starting over again, but hopefully I`d get into the `groove` again soon. And it is Higgs physics still.

My apologies for the lengthy post, perhaps it is not the right board for all that informtion, but it had to be done somewhere :).

Take care and keep in touch, please.

Unknown said...

Hi there Shoaib, great to hear from you! I'm pleased to hear that my adventures have been interesting to read. I'll get in contact with you properly via e-mail but many thanks for getting in touch again.

All the best,