Although to this day, I still have no idea what I actually ordered, I’m pretty sure it was fire. I have never in my life eaten anything as spicy as that fateful dish, and I’m from New Orleans!
Let me backtrack… The very first night we arrived to Beijing, back in 2012, we were starving and stopped by a local restaurant for dinner.
The menu was in Mandarin, which I don’t speak nor read, so I just pointed to a photo of a delicious-looking dish, which I thought was chicken with some kind of red sauce. I was so excited when my plate was served that I dug in and took a huge bite – my first bite of authentic Chinese cuisine!
One bite and I felt like I was undergoing some monstrous transformation into a legit fire-breathing dragon.
Since I didn’t know how to ask for milk, I just frantically pointed at a water bottle, which of course, only made the burning worse. I literally couldn’t eat anything else until the next day because my taste buds and my throat couldn’t handle it. Not to mention I also felt like I couldn’t show my face at that restaurant ever again after the scene I made that night.
And that was the beginning of our fantastic culinary experience in Asia. That trip inspired me to never say no to any food before trying at least a bite. I have no idea what most of what I ate that trip was, but I knew it was delicious. (Well, most of it. Admittedly, some of it was questionable, but it’s a numbers game.)
For the rest of our month-long Asian adventure, we bought foods from markets and street vendors and ordered everything by pointing and smiling, the universal shopping language. It was fabulous.
That moment challenged me to let go of any fear I may have had of the unknown and just embrace whatever may come our way. After all, I seriously doubted it could be any worse than that first night!