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Ethnic flavors of Sichuan

June 27
Today, we started off with a trip to the upscale mall of Chengdu to have a nice, restful morning of window shopping. While some of us stayed in the mall, a couple students ventured off to purchase some knockoff hip brand items and bad English translation shirts, which have proven to be hot ticket items with the students. After individual lunches in the mall, we traveled to meet a friend of our guide Joe, named Jordan. Although he was from Ontario and was dressed like a Silicon Valley native, Jordan was extremely well versed in the history of Chengdu and Sichuan cuisine. He offered us a full history of native ingredients complete with fresh samples to educate us, particularly on Sichuanese peppercorns. After our informative conversation, we travelled to an open air market where he challenged us to find at least one food item or product that we did not recognize for us to discuss at dinner. We then went onwards to what is known as perhaps the best restaurant in Chengdu to enjoy a very busy meal, complete with lots of rabbit meat and even rabbit heads for those so bold as to try them, with Jordan along with us to educate us on the ingredients that composed our dishes. We then completed our evening with a lovely midcourse ceremony in which we used various items to represent emotions or themes that we could use to reflect by candle light on our experience on this trip so far. It proved to be a great experience to conclude a relaxing but long day. — Blythe