Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Massage with your dinner, Mdm?

Our first dinner in Chengdu was an explosion of chilli used in all varieties and forms in various small bite-sized dishes. This was our introduction to Sichuan street snacks, from an array of dan dan mian (noodles), steamed dumplings and wantons with chilli bean paste topping, cold roast chicken and smoked duck pieces, to glutinous rice balls with stuffings.

Spicy Sichuan Noodles
These were really extra fiery bowls of noodle - the bowl in the foreground with the red chilli oil may look 'numbing' but it was the one in the background (with the dark paste) that was the 'taste-bud' killer, requiring gulps of cool liquid to down the fires!
Xiao Zhe Banquet The whole table was filled to the brim with each person having his or her own set of 12 xiao-zhe (little bite-sized) dishes in small bowls and dishes. With more than half of these dishes cooked with the local chillies and peppers, we made little headway in mopping up our allocated dishes and they kept piling up!
Xiao Zhe Banquet 2 Even vegetables and nuts are not spared the chilli accompaniment - just look at those long beans and the raw or slightly undercooked peanuts in the background. As you probably guess, the cold meat appetizers (smoked chicken and duck slices) went the fastest.

Not forgetting the famous 'mapo tofu' which epitomizes Sichuan's culinary culture, this dish of smooth soft beancurd and minced pork cooked with Sichuan chilli bean paste and ground Sichuanese chillies and OIL appeared at every single meal when we were in Chengdu and Jiuzhaigou. {"marginal utility" for mapo tofu decreased pretty quickly as the days went by} As if the dish is not hot enough, this particular version had sichuan crushed red peppers sprinkled on top as well.
Mapo Tofu
Chengdu is apparently famous for producing expert masseurs, but even I had a culture shock upon seeing these gentlemen giving back and shoulder-rubs and arm massages to the diners at the restaurant, in the midst of their dinner. Wonder if the massage helps to strengthen the constitution for the fiery chillies?
Dinner Massage


Blogger fooDcrazEE said...

*wipe*wipe*wipe* sweating profusely.............. FIERY !

10/12/2005 07:30:00 PM  
Blogger Piggy said...

The picture of the man giving massage to a diner really cracked me up! :-D

I know that Sichuan food is very spicy but I didn't expect to see such a thick layer of chilli oil!

10/12/2005 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi foodcrazee and piggy - tsk! tsk! wait till you see the 'mala huo guo' (i.e. mala steam-boat)!

10/13/2005 12:35:00 AM  
Blogger Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Nice blog you have here!
Please, come and visit mine. It's all about Swiss and international cuisine...

10/13/2005 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi rosa - I notice that you leave the same message on other people's blogs. I have visited your blog (nice) but I must say your comment is a little off-putting (akin to fishing for visitors).

10/13/2005 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger boo_licious said...

yikes, I can feel my nose watering up with all those chillies.

I wonder if it is good they massage them when they're eating? I thought there was some kind of time you must allow for the food to digest before you do anything?

10/14/2005 06:53:00 AM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi boo, I suppose it's okay so long its just the arm, shoulder, neck and head massages and the 'chopping' and 'kneading' hands don't go near the tummy region??

10/17/2005 12:03:00 PM  
Blogger babe_kl said...

this is really an eye opener! i mean the massage not the food :p

10/17/2005 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger J said...

hi cath, you must have an incredible tolerance for chilli! everything looks red-hot, and delicious of course (the noodles, in particular)...

10/18/2005 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger eatzycath said...

hi babe, I wonder whether 'dinner massages' trend will be picked up in Singapore? Would be real interesting!

hi J, actually tolerance level for spicy stuff not that good but in the interest of food exploration, frontiers have to be breached..... *sigh* :)

10/18/2005 10:47:00 PM  

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