Spicy Food Not Your Thing? – How to Survive in Sichuan

China’s Sichuan (Szechuan) province is a great place to travel. Some go for the delicious some spicy food, some for the pandas, some for the landscapes; the list is endless.

However, as spicy food is so common over there, what should those who hate spicy stuff do? We’ve got you covered, read on!

Really spicy food has been popular among locals as it helps you to sweat and get rid of toxins in the moist climate that’s the norm there.

Many foreigners, including me, are not so thrilled by the Sichuan’s spicy cuisine, mainly because we can’t handle the extreme spiciness. Our stomachs are just not made to digest things like that. Some people can handle spicy meals after few days of suffering, and some never do.

It’s common to think that spicy means chili. But in China, spiciness can come from few more sources! The Sichuan peppercorn is the strongest pepper in the world and biting into a little ball of it will make your tongue and lips numb.

While in the West you’d just say you don’t want your food spicy, in China this won’t get you anywhere.

You need to specifically name all the three sources of spiciness, only then you’re going to enjoy savory meal without tears.

Especially when eating in non-touristy smaller restaurants, it’s necessary to learn the phrase in Mandarin. The most basic one goes like that:

     不要辣椒,胡椒,花椒。

     Búyào làjiāo, hújiāo, huājiāo.

Get the locals speechless by learning the pronunciation:

Make sure to copy the phrase in characters on your smartphone or print it out. It will save you a lot of trouble!

The best advice I can give you is to first try to eat all the spicy food that’s served to you. Only after you have it really confirmed that your stomach can’t adapt, use the phrase above to stop the spice-loving cooks from throwing all the wild ingredients in your dish. No need to be worried about the food losing its taste – it’s yummy even without all the lajiaos, hujiaos and huajiaos!

 

5 thoughts on “Spicy Food Not Your Thing? – How to Survive in Sichuan”

  1. Thankfully for me I like spicy food. When we made it to Sichuan I thought people were joking about how spicy it is… Well… No!
    Even in the schools, the food is just spicy everywhere! The beans with chilies in it too…

    But as you say: try it and the food in Sichuan is so yummy it’s worth it!

  2. I like spicy food but the Sichuan peppercorns get to me. I just don’t like the sensation of my entire mouth going numb! The food’s SO good though, I just put up with it. :)

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