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.
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!