Food vortex? Yes, food vortex, I just invented a term. (I Googled it, no matches… it's mine)
I was surfing the internet taking full advantage of the rare occurrence of fast internet and "Stumbledupon" an article about energy vortexes. It was an article mostly about Sedona, Arizona but it also mentioned other places such as Machu Picchu, the Great Pyramids and even the negative energy vortex of the Bermuda Triangle. I tend to be a bit skeptical on this kind of stuff, but I do agree these are amazing places that do feel especially good to be in. We were in Chengdu in the Sichuan province of China and I found that all the food energy in the universe had aligned, magnified itself, and was whirling above a pot of steaming oil filled with chili peppers. I can now compare how good I was feeling while gazing at Machu Picchu to boiling a piece of sirloin steak in a hotpot in Chengdu. Hence, food vortex.
Shichuan is world famous for its spicy food. I have always loved spicy food, I come from a family who loves spicy food, I have a heavy hand with hot sauce bottles and I am currently converting my wife into a spice lover with a secret regimented program of spice tolerance. My theory of the secret to Shichuan food is defining spiciness. What does spiciness mean? It can mean many things. Kind of like the legend that says the Inuits have hundreds of words for snow. (It's just a myth, I Googled that too). I think the people of Sichuan understand there are hundreds of types of spiciness. The kind that you feel in your sinuses, the kind that makes you sweat, the kind that only hits you as an aftertaste, the kind that burns your tongue, and a new one for me, the kind that makes your lips numb. This last sentence sounds like torture, but it's really delicious. The Sichuanese know how to use ingredients that can create different combinations of spicy sensatons in their food.
The Sichuan dishes we tried had one up to many of the varieties of spice sensations I described. For example, the famous Kung Pao chicken. This dish is just better in Sichuan, a beautiful balance of flavors starting with a mild spice followed by a touch of sweet, then salty from the peanuts, finishing with a spicy aftertaste. If you're looking for the whole gamut of spices slapping you across the face, go to a hotpot restaurant and order the extra-hot. One taste of food cooked in this oil, will hit you and hit you hard. Every kind of spicy sensation is present, fierce and simultaneous. My favorite was these little atomic green peppercorns… the lip numbing ingredient. Crazy enough, the intense endorphin spiking spice does not mask the flavor of the food. In other words, you can still tell the difference between a piece of chicken and a mushroom cooked in the hotpot. I
I know this kind of food is not for everyone, but it is a food vortex for me. As Meggan and I have traveled, we've been lucky enough to encounter this phenomenon quite a bit, here are a few more:
SOME OF OUR FOOD VORTEXES
- Sushi at sunrise -Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan
- Massive, juicy steaks with fries – Montevideo, Uruguay
- Taco Cart and Mezcal tasting -San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
- Wood fire roasted Patagonia Lamb and mashed potatoes – El Calafate, Argentina
- Thai Street Food -Bangkok, Thailand
- Outdoor dining at the Meyhanes -Istanbul, Turkey
- Night Food Market -Stone Town, Zanzibar
We have started some lists with food and other little tidbits on our lists page.
What are your Food Vortexes? We'd love to hear about them and better yet, try them! Please comment below, tweet and stumble… we'd love to hear what were missing.