China FAQ: Why is Szechuan Food Spicy?
Are you preparing to head to the spicy food capital of China? Szechuan cuisine is renowned for its flavorful and incredibly spicy hot pots and other dishes. Most other cuisines in China cannot even compare to the variety of spices in Szechuan cooking. So, how did this tasty cuisine get to be that way, and why is it so spicy?
The climate in southwestern China is very humid, which historically can make people who live there prone to various types of arthritis after years of exposure. Spicy food helps with a variety of health issues, including joint health, cold, appetite, digestion, and more. However, Szechuan wasn’t always a region filled with spicy food. Chili peppers were brought to China over 400 years ago from South America, and the locals quickly fell in love.
Spicy food offers a lot of practical benefits aside from the health benefits associated with capsicum, including the ability to craft hot oils to preserve food as well as season it. The sweating induced by really spicy foods is also helpful for cleaning the skin and body of toxins and keep cool in the summer. It may seem counterintuitive to eat hot meals in the middle of summer, but it does help!
Better still, after chili peppers were introduced to China, the climate was found to be perfect for growing the peppers en masse. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a hot pot without chilies in Szechuan province. Because of the huge health benefits and practical uses, spicy foods are essential to the culture and cuisine of this region.
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