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  • "Bobbing on the roiling surface of the dark, viscous liquid is a logjam of tongue-scalding dried Szechuan chilies. Less noticeable, but just as plentiful, are a fistful of hua jiao, smaller, darker 'flower' peppercorns. The dried chilies are pure burn. The peppercorns, although aromatic, are pure freeze. They numb the mouth, at times the whole face, as they go down (which explains why they are a popular remedy for toothache). My friend David, a Chengdu native, points at the spicy hellbroth with his chopsticks and says, 'It gets stronger as it cooks.'"

    —Anthony Bourdain, The Nasty Bits (New York: Bloomsbury, 2006), 103

    March 25, 2009