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A student practices working the fields with a water buffalo. Photo by Ming-Jiu-Li, China Summer Program.

Chongqing Hotpot

Chongqing is famous worldwide for many things, such as its history and its unique location among mountains, but it is most known for its numbingly spicy cuisine.

The most famous dish is Hot Pot. It consists of dipping several different raw meats and vegetables in a boiling pot of spicy broth made out of red chili peppers and Sichuan Peppercorns until they cook. While they are cooking they absorb the spice in the broth. The turnout can only be described in one word, fiery.

On our last evening in the city we took on the Hot Pot. Several locals recommended a place in the Xie Jia Wan borough and we had dinner there. The experience was one that we will never forget. As we walked into the restaurant, the smell of spice filled the air and stung our eyes. Some of us were too frightened to try the heat, but our bravest foodies took on the challenge. The first bite was incredibly spicy, but the real heat started when you kept eating. Our lips went numb and some of us cried out of sheer burning. Water didn’t help; in fact it just spread the flavor out and made it much worse. These feelings made some of us want to stop, but it also made some of us want to eat more. When the meal came to an end we felt the need to get ice cream to cool our mouths down. This meal was one of the best we’ve had on the trip. We laughed a lot, mainly at people’s faces as they were handling the heat.

This tasty dinner marked an end to our experience in Chongqing. The next morning we left the spicy city and got on a train to Chengdu. We leave this city with one goal accomplished; the dragons could indeed handle the fire of Chongqing.

-Jose Pablo & friends