Last week we raved about how much we love “the other parts of a pig,” and documented the many times we’ve been asked “Can you really eat that?”
This time around, we went to Szechuan Bean Flower and insisted on eating something from the Chinese menu. Server Ben obliged us with a walk through each of the items, the last of which was, in his words, “simply guts.” We saw the same Chinese characters on a specials sign, and asked about it. “Intestines with Bean Curd,” Ben said, adding, “You won’t eat it.”
“Can you really eat that?” now seemed mild, by comparison. Not only did we want it, we told Ben, but we wanted it authentic. Don’t dumb it down.
Ben brought a glass pie plate containing a liquidy glob full of intestines floating over clouds of silky white tofu, with crushed peanut dust scattered on top. But the color was wrong. Where was the fiery red oiliness? The textures were wonderfully chewy and smooth, but on the spice scale, this was barely registering. “Why, why, why?” we asked. Ben explained that many Caucasians claim they can eat spicy food, but when their eyes tear and their mouths burn, the uneaten food goes back to the kitchen. The often-disappointed chef now refuses to prepare truly spicy food for Caucasians unless he knows them.
Our meal ended with fortune cookies and a revelation: It’s not just the fault of the Chinese, though we wish they didn’t discriminate by putting all the good stuff in a language we can’t read. We now blame the Caucasians. Be more adventurous. Try some new foods. But don’t try to be heroes if you can’t really handle the spice. You’re ruining real Chinese food for the rest of us. Maybe you won’t eat it, but we want to.
Originally posted at Seattlest (where “we” = me) on May 29, 2008.