“Here, taste this.” She held out a bowl with what looked like small round seeds. I took one, and crunched it between my teeth, releasing a spicy, slightly acidic peppery aroma. As I rolled the flavor around I realized my tongue was becoming numb, and my lips too. It reminded me of a spice Kristin’s sister-in-law from China used, one that also created that numbing effect, but this tasted brighter. It was fresher.
“Sichuan pepper?” I asked.