Once, decades back, if you lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan you were caught in the Szechuan revolution. Few people had heard of this cuisine, but it caught on with the ferocity of the hot peppers that were in every dish. There were probably 10 legendary Szechuan restaurants between West 79th and West 86th Street. Everybody had their favorite, and their favorite dishes.
These foods were nothing like the Cantonese cuisine that was back then the only Chinese foods familiar to Americans. Not only was this new stuff blazingly hot: spangled with bird’s eye chili pods and peanutsm but it was cooked in an almost dry wok. To this day, I can’t think of any food I liked as much, even if I spent that decade doubled over with IBS.