First of all, let me apologize to my readers for taking so long to get a new blog post up. I’ve been doing plenty of eating since my last entry, but unfortunately, I haven’t tried anything that’s been new to me since then. I guess that’s understandable, considering that I recently ate 365 new foods in a row.
Anyway, I did manage to try a couple of new things last weekend that were definitely new to me, and they came from a local restaurant that I’ve been wanting to try for awhile: Peter Cheng’s. Anyone that pays attention to the food scene in Atlanta has probably heard of PC’s and its history, and after hearing several great things about the food, me and the GF decided to finally give it a shot.
If you’ve never tried authentic Sichuan Chinese cuisine, you better be prepared to sweat. Much of it is prepared with Sichuan peppers and peppercorns, which give the food a level of heat that, in my opinion, is unparalleled. I like spicy food, but my tolerance for heat is extremely low. My forehead is sweating as I write this just from thinking about it, if that tells you anything. I’d previously experienced Sichuan-style cooking at Tasty China in Atlanta, and I was curious to find out how PC’s compared.
After perusing the menu, I found 2 dishes that I’d never tried before that sounded tasty. The first was dry-fried mushrooms, which I knew would come with a hearty dose of the peppers. I’d tried the dry-fried eggplant at Tasty China and loved it, so I knew I couldn’t go wrong with the mushroom version. The other was a deep-fried dish called Shan City Chicken, and I stupidly chose to disregard its spice rating of 2 peppers. More on that later.
The mushrooms were excellent – not at all like the ones you’re used to dipping in ranch dressing at your local bar. The Chinese mushrooms were the long, skinny kind with a small cap, but I’m not exactly sure what they’re called. Much like the dry-fried eggplant, the result was a crunchy (but not greasy) mushroom with a soft center. The dish also included cilantro, scallion, and a moderate dose of the red Sichuan peppers. Really good, but I was sweating after a few bites. If only I’d known what was in store for me with the chicken dish, I would have stopped here.
Our server brought the Shan City Chicken shortly after delivering the mushrooms, and I was shocked. I’d never seen so many peppers in my life. Keep in mind that the peppers are not intended to be eaten – they’re used only as a flavoring/spice agent. In addition, the dish also included small strips of deep-fried chicken and a healthy dose of cilantro. It looked good, so I couldn’t wait to try it.
After a few bites, I started feeling the intense effects of Sichuan pepper overload. My mouth became numb, my lips started tingling, and my forehead was pouring sweat like I’d just finished 30 minutes on the treadmill. The heat was overwhelming, and to be honest, it was all I could taste. The chicken itself was salty and crunchy, but the intense burn totally blew out my palate. I guzzled water and ate white rice to attempt to alleviate the torture, but they didn’t help much. The GF wasn’t sweating nearly as much as me, but neither of us could finish the chicken.
I have learned that I simply cannot handle the “hot and numbing” Sichuan cuisine. It’s no reflection on the food or the restaurant, but my palate just can’t handle it. In the future, I’ll stick to dishes that have a low (or zero) pepper rating. Yeah, I’m a wuss.