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Yay! I studied in China last year, and really, sichuan food has never been the same since I got back.

We were just over there, and I finally experienced what they mean when they call Sichuan peppercorns "numbing hot" (I think that's "ma" as opposed to "la"). I ran into it twice -- once in an incredible Sichuan fish restaurant in Beijing, and once in the food court of a department store in Zheng Zhou of all places. My lips were literally numbed. It was weird, but really excellent.

I've eaten a lot of supposed and actual Sichuan food over here, and I've cooked with those peppercorns before, but I've NEVER had that experience. I don't know whether it's just that I need to use more of them, or that the peppercorns in China are much fresher, or what. I plan to experiment a bit.

(I'm Kitchen Chick's husband, by the way)

I would go to the cafterias on campus just to get a mala potato string dish (or a fried chicken dish with those wonderfully fragrant chili peppers) and eat them with plain white rice. This was at Peking University. I'd never before even heard of mala, but it was great fun to bite into the peppercorns and wait numbly before I could use my mouth again.

My friend smuggled in a bag of the peppercorns this summer while they were still illegal and put them in a chili, but I was also hard-pressed to taste them, although the smell was there.

Hello, Kitchenchick's husband. I have been poring over your wife's blog since finding it the other day, finding it to be absolutely delightful.

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