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首页 考试资讯考研英语 2024考研英语同源外刊8月:四川人究竟多爱吃花椒?


时间:2023-08-03 20:37:14 编辑:Lcc



Like some other adventurous foods, they expand your sense of what eating can do to you


“Polysemous” describes a word with several meanings, such as “run”, “set”, or, in the kitchen, “pepper”. That term encompasses the entire Capsicum annuum family, from vegetal green bell peppers to searing little Thai chillies.


It includes dried, powdered Piperaceae berries, known as black and white pepper, as well as one of the strangest and most addictive spices in the world: Zanthoxylum simulans, more commonly known as Sichuan pepper.


Whereas ordinary peppercorns grow on vines, Sichuan peppers are berries of the prickly-ash tree and part of the citrus family. They come in red and green varieties; the red has an earthily floral taste, where the green is more astringent.


Their most pronounced feature, however, is not their flavour but their effect on the mouth: they contain a chemical called hydroxy-alpha-sanshool, which induces a tingling numbness in the lips and tongue, a bit like being subjected to a long but mild electric shock.


As its English name suggests, the pepper is indispensable to the deliciously complex cuisine of Sichuan, a province in south-west China. Together with dried chillies it forms the flavour profile known as mala, a term made up of the characters for “numbing” and “spicy”.


Anyone who has had the eye-watering, nose-running pleasure of eating shui zhu yu—poached fish in a sea of seething, peppery chilli oil—knows this sensation. In the West, kung pao dishes, a Sichuan speciality, tend to be oversweetened and bland; the real version sings, the zingy pepper set off by the mellow kick of black vinegar.


Less traditionally, dry-fried and then crushed with salt, Sichuan pepper can be a bracing topping for popcorn. Toasted and mixed with cumin and fennel seeds, dried chillies, anise, sugar and salt, it makes a spice rub that enlivens stir-fried potatoes. The lemony intensity pairs well with the austere richness of dark chocolate and the buttery blank slate of shortbread.


A few peppercorns go a long way. Just as inexperienced barbecue cooks often ignite so much wood that they char their meat, pepper novices risk making diners’ heads vibrate for hours.


Yet even when used in moderation, they remain, like anchovies or coriander, a divisive ingredient. Detractors wonder why anyone would want to anaesthetise their mouths while eating. There is no answer, really—no disputing tastes, as the maxim goes.


Sichuan peppercorns, however, are just one of an array of foods prized by gastronauts for the sensations they induce. The appeal of foie gras is partly its lush richness. Unripe guava, which often shows up on Thai tables, has a tannic, mouth-drying quality that balances fiery foods perfectly.


Some cannot get enough of the jolting burn chillies produce; for others, the pain outweighs any pleasure. In “Love in the Time of Cholera”, one of Gabriel García Márquez’s characters munches asparagus for the resulting aroma of his urine.


To sample any of these items is to expand your understanding of what food can do to you. They add more dimensions to the concept of taste. Inevitably, some prefer the familiar. Their loss.




anaesthetise [ə'nɛsθətaɪz] vt. 使麻醉

polysemous [ˌpɑliˈsiməs] adj. 多义的;一词多义的

capsicum [ˈkæpsəkəm] n. 辣椒;辣椒果

astringent [əˈstrɪndʒənt] adj. 收缩的;严厉的;尖刻的;辛辣的

mellow [ˈmeloʊ] adj. 柔和的;可口的;松软的

vibrate [ˈvaɪbreɪt] v. 震动;振动;抖动;萦绕







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