Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Margy's Beijing Journal: A Spicy Farewell

For the last meal of her trip, Margy, along with her hosts/culinary tour guides, ate at a place called the Middle-8th, which serves "refined Hunan food."

"Refined" is not how I'd describe that indecent-looking mound of hot peppers; "thrilling" is more like it. Of course, the peppers aren't meant to be eaten. Rather, they're there to produce heat by association, lending just a steady glow rather than outright flames to the fried heads-on shrimp they surround. Margy was generally dazzled by the chile effect in Beijing, saying that the spicy dishes carried the perfect level of heat, a mellow yet persistent tingle that was dialed only one step down from euphoric.

Adding to the pleasant feelings was a refreshing house-made rice wine that Margy described as looking like lemonade. It was served in tall, handleless bamboo pitchers and drunk from glass Mason jars, and Margy just said "I wish I had some now." Me, I'll settle for about 25 of those shrimp.

So there you have it, Margy's Beijing Journal. I hope I get to join her one day should she ever return, but for now I'll just be glad to have her back and to have someone besides myself to cook for.

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