Flower pepper

Flower peppers

Blog #12

3-16-18

A mutual friend introduced my wife and me while we were working at a government lab NIST. She always liked to share her Chinese culture with me. One night we went out to eat Chinese food. The menu had a spiciness scale for their dishes:

* : Spicy

** : Very spicy

*** : Extremely spicy

# : Numbing

“#? Numbing? What is that?” I though. That must be super spicy!

A few weeks later, this Chinese girlfriend brought me a real Chinese lunchbox that she had cooked herself. How romantic!

In our large NIST cafeteria maybe there are a few hundred people eating lunch and two microwaves to heat up lunchboxes. So, typically, there is a lot of waiting for the microwave.

My wife (girlfriend at that time) brought me a hot lunchbox and went back to heat up a second lunchbox. She told me to start eating and let her know what I thought. I opened the lid of the glass lunchbox and the steamy rice and veggies looked pretty good. There was a spice scent inside I did not recognize and so I started eating. About the fourth or fifth bite, something inside my mouth stuck me like a needle. I stopped chewing. Was it a piece of broken glass? What was this sharp thing? I spit out the food into a napkin. Then, my mouth started becoming numb. It felt like a dentist had given me a shot of anesthetic. I must be having some kind of food allergy! I stood up to find my girlfriend (wife) and she was already on her way back with lunchbox #2. I said “something is wrong, there was a sharp thing in the food, and now my mouth is going numb”. She just said “yes, that’s flower pepper.” At this point I still don’t know what flower pepper is, so I am still pretty worried.

I said – “I don’t know what is happening to me, my mouth is going numb.”

She said again, “oh, that’s just flower pepper. It is a little numbing”

“Numbing?” I asked “The food is numbing?”

Fun fact: Numbing is a hard word to say in English when your mouth is numb.

And then she added “maybe I added too much? I don’t really know how to cook with it.”

Well, it turns out I survived the flower pepper. She showed me what the flower peppers look like and it turns out about 1/5 of the dish was flower peppers. Some of them when dried can be quite sharp! All in all I learned that flower pepper is actually numbing, and that dried flower pepper can be quite sharp. And that Sichuan people are pretty bold.

You can read more about this spice here: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-szechuan-peppers-make-your-lips-go-numb-5668606/

一个朋友介绍我和我的太太认识。以前我们在同一个国家实验室,NIST工作。这个中国美女(我的太太)总是给我介绍中国文化。一天我们出去在中国饭店吃晚饭。他们的菜单上有辣度排名:

* 辣

** 很辣

*** 非常辣

# 麻辣

“#?” “麻辣?” 我觉得很怪,不懂它的意思。应该是非常非常辣的。

差不多三个星期以后,这个中国美女准备了一个盒饭给我。她自己做的。好浪漫。

在我们公司的餐厅,有两百人但只有两个微波炉,所以常常需要排队用微波炉。我的女朋友给我一个热的盒饭,她说了,”你开始吃饭,我去排队“。这是一个玻璃饭盒。我打开盒饭盖子,闻到一阵香味。里面有好看的饭和菜。我发现一种气味我不认识。我开始吃饭。第四五口饭,一个东西在口里面刺伤了我。我在想“这是什么?这是一片碎玻璃吗?

我把饭吐到纸上。我的嘴巴变麻了。像在看牙医,像在嘴巴里打针。我觉得可能是食物过敏!我站起来找我的女朋友,看到她回到我们的桌旁。我说“快快来我有一个大问题。我不懂为什么我的嘴巴麻木了“。

她说“这就是花椒。它会让你的嘴巴有一点儿麻。“

“麻?菜是麻的?“我说了。嘴巴麻的时候很难说“麻木“这个字。

我的女朋友说,“可能加了太多花椒。不知道应该加多少。我真的没有用过,没有办法用花椒做菜。“

我战胜了花椒。她给我看花椒是什么, 我发现我的盒饭差不多五分之一都是花椒。总之,我学会了,花椒菜真的很麻。花椒干可能刺你的嘴巴。我也学到了四川人可能很大胆。

Having a Dragon by the tail

Blog post #9

2-22-18

Having the dragon by the tail!

Happy new year!  Welcome to the year of the dog for 2018 in the Chinese lunar new year.  Our children participate in our local Chinese school – the Hua Xia Chinese school.  This year we were much more involved in the New Years gala.  Our kids had some dancing and singing performances.  There was also a Chinese dragon dance to open the show and the school needed volunteers because there were not enough people to hold it up.  My sister was visiting town and so we both volunteered to help carry the dragon.  We were the last two to join, so we were the tail of the dragon.  Our task was to run around the stage making big circles and stop, wave the dragon, and run around some more.  We quickly realized that the tail end has to run the fastest and turn the sharpest corners.  It was fun but a bit difficult to keep up.  Other than that it was pretty easy – you just do what the person in front of you is doing.  If I get to try it again, I would love to practice crossing the dragon over on itself and other moves.  Maybe next year.

新年快乐!欢迎狗年。二零十八是一只狗在中国月亮日历。我们孩子们参加我们城市的中文学校。它叫了华夏中文学校。今年我们都参加学校的新年节日。孩子们俩有跳舞表演,女儿唱了一个好可爱的歌曲。学校也要中国龙舞但人不过,他们还要两大人。其实我的妹妹已经打算来我们城市看看我们。我和我的妹妹自愿参加。我们是第两最后的自愿所以我们是龙的尾巴。我们的责任是跑一圈,然后停,然后把龙一边到一边。我们的责任是容易,但龙尾巴需要跑步非常快。除了这个,一共龙舞很好玩儿!

如果他们明年需要帮忙,我要帮助他们多一点。例如,我们可能跳的多一点复杂。

Teaching mother in law how to drive, part #2

Blog #8 Feb 11, 2018

If you haven’t read, make sure to start with:

Teaching mother-in-law how to drive, part #1

When we saw the police car, I wanted to tell Mom how to roll down the window. Here is one detail – on this car were driving, the windows are very dark black. The tint is actually limousine tint, which is illegal because police cannot see in. I am thinking about this, and all of the police shootings in the news recently.  And we have been driving around the bank. I cannot get Mom to roll down the window as the police starts to approach the door. I made the decision to open my door to speak to the police officer. This can be quite dangerous in the US, the police officer may think you are trying to attack or run away, you should always stay in the car and not make any sudden movements. I had been jumping around inside the car trying to reach the window, the police can’t see inside.

So I took a deep breath and opened the door, making sure to hold up my hands above my head when I said “heeeelllloooooo there!” “we are just doing some driving lessons”.

Then he smiled, relaxed and said, “oh, OK.”

He told us no problem, but that someone had called in to report suspicious driving. We chatted a bit and then he told us to please continue with the practice. He pulled off to the side and a second police cars arrived to the parking lot. We had a lot of police supervision, maybe the safest driving lesson ever. For the next lesson, we found a new parking lot to practice in and never returned to the bank again.

我们看警车的时候,我告诉妈妈停车,然后打开窗户。在美国,如果一个警车在你的后面以后,你就需要停车,打开窗户,等在你的车子里面。但是,我的岳母开不了窗户。警察离开他的车开始来看我们车。岳母还开不了窗户我很紧张。一个小细节,我们的汽车窗户都是很黑色的。从外面不能看里面。其实,这是非法的。我们这的看起来像银行劫匪。我也值得在美国现在有恨多警察枪杀人。我真的越来越非常紧张。

我决定打开我的乘客门。我先脱掉我的手套,然后开我的门,放我的手在我的头上面。我说“你好啊啊啊啊啊啊”微笑着,挥舞着你好。

警察看我,然后他放松了和我也放松了。我告诉他我较我的岳母开车。我们聊天儿一点,然后他说,“你可以恢复教学”。五分钟后,第二辆警车多来所以我们真的有地最安全的开车课。我们快一点完成了课。我们再没有回到这个停车管。

Teaching mother-in-law how to drive, part #1

Blog #7

Feb 8, 2018

In 2016, my wife and I set a New Years resolution to teach my mother in law how to drive. I have pretty good relationship with my mother in law who lives with us. She is about 60 years old, and had never before driven a car nor could she speak or read English. So, this was a big job, but something we really wanted to do to improve her quality of life living with us here in the US.

Every weekend we would practice using parking lots near my house. There was one big parking lot with several offices all connected. One Sunday, we were driving from the day care on one side all the way to loop around the bank in the other side. The bank had some very narrow lanes around the backside which made for good practice. Daycare to bank. Bank to daycare. Back and forth we drove. Perhaps around the third or fourth loop around the bank I though – we probably look like criminals casing the bank. Shortly after that, we were practicing parking into parking spots when a police car suddenly came rushing up behind us…

在2016上我和妻子决定我们要教我的岳母开车。我和我的岳母的关系是很好,她住在我们的家里。她差不多六十岁,以前没有开过车,看不懂英文,听不懂英文。所以这是一个很大的工作。但是我们要做这个因为可能提高她在美国的生活质量。

每一个星期天我们联系开车。我们本来用一个大的停车场。那个停车场有很多不同的店都在一起。一边有一育儿园另一边有一家银行。

我们在停车场里从一边的育儿园开始,到另一边的银行来回开。那家银行的后面有很窄的路,很好练习。然后,回来育儿园。来回开了三四次以后,我觉得我们看起来像两个小偷。看起来像抢银行。一会儿后,我们在联系停车。突然一辆警车马上到了在我们后面。