"Spicy foods? Uh -- well. . ."
Spicy foods and I are not normally friends. My roommate's Dad is Mexican, and she frequently mocks my complete inability to handle any type of spice, even when she's making "non-spicy" salsa.
Turns out, we were heading to the Sichuan province. Guess what they're known for? Super spicy food!!!
That's cool. That's cool. I can handle this. I will just be careful. Right? Of course right. So the trip started, and for the first few days, I was doing pretty good. Granted, we mostly ate at KFC, because it was the only thing within walking distance of our hotel, but still.
Then the weekend came, and we were invited out to hot pot. See how happy I look? That's because I hadn't started eating yet.
Then the hot pot experience started, and I realized I was out of my element x400.
If you have never had hot pot, this is what happens.
That big silver thing in the middle? It is boiling hot spicy hot oil, ready to leap out and attack you. Okay, it never did that, but it came close. In the middle is a boiling hot pot of broth. Not so spicy, but it did have a whole fish boiling in it. I have a hard time with fish in general, and that fish in specific was kind of. . . scary.
So I thought "okay! no problem! I will eat some spicy stuff!"
To begin with, I had only really been using chopsticks for about 4 days and I was not doing so great. Second, these are smooooth chopsticks, to be used only for grabbing tiny slippery bite sized pieces of meat out of boiling oil. Good luck!
The kids you see on either side of me in the first picture? They frequently fed me. Or at least, fished stuff out of the hot pot and put it on my plate. They thought it was pretty funny that I was so inept at eating.
I was doing okay with the spice. I mean, it was spicy. But I could eat a lot of rice in between bites of BOILING HOT SPICY DEATH MEAT.
Then something got in my eye. Something in my eye? Oh no. Well. I knew what not to do. Don't wipe it with your fingers! They've touched food with the hot pot oil, it will burn! So I didn't wipe my eyes with my fingers. Instead, I reached down and wiped my eye with my napkin.
Key point that I missed: I had frequently wiped my fingers ON SAID NAPKIN.
In case you were wondering, hot pot spice in the eye is just as bad as you could possibly imagine, and also worse. There was nothing at the table that had not been tainted by the hot pot spice in some way -- there was no way for me to wipe my eyes. I just closed my eye and let all of the tears run out and figured I'd wipe it with a kleenex when I could see well enough to open my eye.
One of the little kids was like "um, why are you crying black tears?"
So much for my eye make up that day.
basically, this is what I learned from hot pot: spicy food can be tasty. just keep it very, very far away from your eye.