I dined at a Sichuan Chinese place recently and was struck by the interesting properties of the dishes. Rather than blasting my mouth with simple, overwhelming spiciness (which I’ve always heard about in Sichuan cooking), the dishes presented a more nuanced, almost narcotic heat. It was definitely spicy, but much more than that – my mouth was tingling and even a bit numb (which I soon realized – after plucking one of the things from my kung pao and chewing it whole – was thanks to the eponymous brand of peppercorn used in the cuisine). The food was delicious and I’d go back in a heart beat, but I left more intrigued with the strange little Sichuan peppercorn than the excellent food. And, like with most things nowadays, I got to thinking about how I could turn this into a Daily Apple post.