Sichuan China Traveler

Written by Feb 2, 2010 18:21
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Pig’s Feet and Sichuan Cuisine

Sichuan Cuisine

I admit, I enjoy eating pig’s feet.
The pork embraced by a thick blanket of fat and barely clinging to an inner bone is some of the most tender meat your taste buds will ever encounter.
Prepared with boiled potatoes covered with sauerkraut, the meal is among my all-time favorites. It was one of my most requested birthday meals, and my Mother happily obliged. At least when she could find pig’s feet, a.k.a. pig’s knuckles. Supermarkets don’t always carry them.
Only one time can I recall ever seeing pig’s feet on a menu and that was at a German restaurant in Milwaukee. And they were delicious.
The second time I encountered pig’s feet was at the Bifengxia Panda Bear Base, about two hours from Chengdu in the Sichuan Province.
Among the 10 dishes I recall were deep-fried beans, sausage, a type of hashbrowns, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, a pork dish, a chicken dish -- and pig’s feet!
We just needed boiled potatoes and sauerkraut.
None of these dishes were what you’d call traditional Sichuan Cuisine, those hot and spicy dishes that create red faces and produce columns of steam from the ears. At least none that I tried.
In case you didn’t know, spicy is synonymous with Sichuan in the culinary arts.
Some people actually enjoy eating something that is so spicy hot it numbs their palate. Me, I’ve had root canal and I don’t particularly care to have water dribbling down my chin because my mouth was too numb to notice.
The spicy hot cuisine that Sichuan Province is famous for remained untouched by my chopsticks, which, like my taste buds, adapted quite nicely to Kung poa chicken.
Such was not the case for Rex Viehman of Houston. He came to Chengdu and the Sichuan Province specifically for the Sichuan Cuisine. He is among those who enjoy third-degree-burns of the taste buds.
“I love the combination of the fiery and numbing sensation,” Rex told me. “What I that you don’t go to a high-end restaurant to get Sichuan, you go to the stalls (on the streets) where there’s people with the skewers and they’re just deep heating the grilled meat in those flavorings.
“As a culinary tourist, I found actually going low end is better than going high end.”
Rex truly was in culinary heaven.
Mind you, I’m not a picky eater. I’ll try everything once. But I admit I didn’t try the hot stuff, or the chicken feet or duck’s tongue that I saw for sale by street vendors. Neither did I opt to order the slithery snakes that were crawling around in an aquarium ready to be plucked out and BBQ’d. I bravely tried rattlesnake in Phoenix once. It didn’t taste like chicken. It was very salty and needed lots of cold beer.
In Ya’an, my palate got its most challenging test at one of the many “Hot Pot” restaurants that line the Qingyi River, next to that cool bridge.
Hot Pot is when they bring out a boiling pot and set it in the middle of your table over a flame. All the ingredients are put into the boiling water. Ours was duck soup ( video ) .
I tried the bamboo shoots. Not sure what panda bears see in bamboo. Yuk. I tried to try the mushrooms (I’ve never liked fungi, my family can attest), but they were large and so chewy I couldn’t break off a piece and I finally gave up. The seaweed was, well, I forget. I’ve tasted dry seaweed in Japan and it was OK. The pork meatballs were especially tasty, as was the beer -- I enjoyed seconds and thirds on both.
And of course, I tried a piece of the boiled duck, which was put into the pot in its entirety -- neck, head, beak and all. It wasn’t bad, but like a divining rod, my chopsticks kept going for the pork meatballs.

 More Chengdu Travel Reviews
1. A blind yet great tour of Chengdu WANG from Singapore Jan 30, 2010 01:13
2. arouse your appetite MISSCHAN from CN Aug 3, 2009 21:42
3. Chengdu, a blossoming peony in China XUCHUNLEI from MO Jun 20, 2007 23:06
Comments (1)


Mar 9, 2010 19:59 Reply


great! i will back to my hometown this end of month and eat lots of food , back to sichuan,,

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