I think I already mentioned that the food in China was spicy. Very spicy. Everywhere. We expected it in Sichuan, but even in Beijing we were blown away by how spicy it was.
It seems like the photo above shows how much red pepper they put in every single dish they cook.
Well, in Xi'an's Muslim Quarter, we first ate some potatoes cooked on the street.
Within seconds of walking away with the food and each taking a couple bites, our mouths were on fire. I mean ON FIRE. So we went and bought bottles of water as we were walking. I remember very clearly opening my water. The seal was intact. The bottle was clear and it looked like water -- the bottle seemed to be a brand we'd bought before.
As an aside, a bottle of water there costs about 40 cents.
As soon as I took a drink, I knew something was wrong. It didn't taste like water. I told my husband right as he was taking a drink from his own bottle that he'd just opened. What the heck? His was funky water too. My mind then moved from the initial thought that there was tampering to the new conclusion that we hadn't bought water. Maybe it was some weird kind of soda, or maybe it was flat sparkling water. Our mouths were still burning, but now there was a funky metallic taste. We put the waters in our backpack and walked on.
After a couple minutes of walking, we bought beer and drank that. Still tasted kind of funky, but better. It wasn't until about an hour later, after the strange metallic taste had faded, that we ate something else that was insanely spicy and bought more water and had the same experience that we realized it was possibly the food that was causing a major taste disruption, not funky water.
Sure enough, later that night, our mouths finally not on fire, we decided to try the water we'd earlier put away -- and it tasted like water. It was just something about all the spices that made out mouths not even be able to recognize normal water. Bizarre!
Just had to share that story.