“Do you eat spicy?” Is there a more commonly uttered sentence that divides the masses? Some slink away at the mere mention of la while others dose up on heat like it’s their last, teary meal. Chili forges bonds, it defines communities, and it has the power to incapacitate if you don’t pay it its due respect. That’s why we’ve dedicated this entire issue – as well as our Apr 14-15 Hot & Spicy Festival (more about that on p.44) – to the unassuming but omnipotent Capsicum annuum.
In these pages, we’ll look at the various chilies of China (p.12-13), where to crib the best spice-infused cocktails (p.14-15), how to source and cook for your own hot pot party (p.16-17), as well as Jeremiah Jenne's look at the history and deeper cultural underpinnings that the chili’s introduction to China has given rise to (p.18-19).
Elsewhere, Robynne Tindall explores chili consumption outside of Sichuan (p.22-23), Tracy Wang guides us through the best of Beijing’s spicy street desserts (p.38-39), Tautvile Daugelaite orders in punchy jarred products from the city’s artisans (p.40-41), and Andrew Little embraces what is perhaps the biggest game-changer in Chinese mobile eating: the self-cooking hot pot (p.44-45).
Once you’re thoroughly spiced-out, take a glance at the new venues around town, including Kyle Mullin’s review of TRB-backed casual fine dining restaurant Hulu (p.24), and my tour of the Guardian Art Center, Beijing’s shiniest addition to its art landscape (p.32). Finally, towards the back we also have our usual interviews with the city’s most interesting cats: Nocturnes (p.50-51), Jennythra Raj (p.52-53), and Sahra Malik (p.54-55). No matter your preference – spicy or not – there’s a little something for everyone to relish. We look forward to seeing exactly how you like it at our Hot & Spicy Festival!
Tom Arnstein – Managing Editor, the Beijinger
Photo: Dave's Studio