Friday, 25 May 2012

Silk not only cuts but it burns as well

I thought I was a man. I was wrong. Silk cuts, I should have known this from all the adverts I saw as a kid. What I hadn’t realized is that silk also burns.

Somewhere in Camberwell, Silk Road is a Xinjiang Chinese cuisine, I’ll be honest and admit that this doesn’t really mean very much to me, I’ve long come to terms with my ignorance of culinary traditions anywhere further east than Alsace. Still I’d heard tell of the joys and delights that awaited me beyond their unprepossessing doors.

I’d done my best to fit in with the manor, I’d rolled one of my trouser legs up a little bit and I’d untucked my shirt. I’d been practicing saying the right sort of things, good stuff was bare and I’d been appending my sentences with an appropriate amount of bluds. I figured I was ready.

I’d asked my local guide to order for me on account of my not really knowing what I ought to be eating. She assured me that so long as I was hungry we’d only have a couple of take away boxes. She lied.

cucumber as an offensive weapon
A couple of Tsing Tao beers came first, it’s one of those beers that seems to suit certain situations, it’s far from the best, but frankly it’s beery, bubbly and when cold has the required refreshment that’s asked for.

fatty fucking goodness
Cucumber came first, I feel it’s important not to be the one that comes first, so it was nice that this most refreshing of gourds beat me to the punch as pretty much everything that followed fucked me rotten. It was drenched in a chilli oil and commenced to making me feel a trifle inferior.

Swiftly following the cucumber salad were the lamb cumin skewers, though not as bedecked with cumin and chilli seeds as those at Manchurian legends, these were gloriously spiced with chunks of meat alternating with pieces of dribbling fat that made me think faintly naughty thoughts about sheep.

Home style cabbage arrived drowning in a seriously garlicky spicy dressing, though like a gypsy fortune teller it was bedecked with innumerable dark red bangles of dried chillies. Fuck it was tasty though. Also, I was starting to sweat.

sorry I'll alter the orientation of this later 
I think it was around this point that my companion started laughing at me. This was quite reasonable as it looked like I was coming up, I was sweating (sweat was running down the back of my ears for god’s sake, that’s never happened before), I was lolling around the table and starting to get a little insensible.

Next came a veritable battleship of a dish, a dark five spice and star anise flavoured brown broth filled with bits of bony chicken and (slightly too al dente) chunks of potato, the waiter returned moments later to slide a plate of biblically sized noodles into the broth. Slick and uncooperative like a well dressed but truculent teenager they evaded most of my attempts to trap them betwixt my chop sticks, opting instead to slither messily back into their brothy residence leaving me with nothing but their splashed signatures across my white shirt.
I was less enamoured with the middle belt chicken (as it was described on the menu), I don’t think the spicing of the broth was quite to my liking. I say I don’t think because at this point I was watching the room lurch around and listening to the laughter of my companion. Apparently I was a treat to behold, being utterly broken by the cumulative heat of all the chilli oil. Dark golden patches seemed to be forming beneath my eyes, I could feel every follicle on my head and sweat was running down the back of my neck. I’m pretty certain I wasn’t a pretty sight.

Finally, almost as an afterthought, the home-style aubergine arrived. I’m sad to say I didn’t really appreciate the dish, it was possibly the most wonderful aubergine I’ve ever tasted, meaty chunks interspersed with tomato and wrapped up with (yep more) chilli oil. It was fabulous, however I was by this time broken. A shell of a person all whacked up on chilli while watching my companion laugh at me on account of my lack of manliness.

I was broken, lost for words, sweating like peadophile in a crèche and quite confused as to where I was and what I was doing.

God Silk Road was good, every dish was excellent, however; this is (I feel) rather like complementing an Uzi for being able to deliver bullets. I had thought that I could handle heat. I couldn’t

Silk road broke me, it broke me in a great sort of way, everything that came to our table was great, however I have now realised that I need another four or fivre years of training before it becomes second nature to eat like the Xiag Jangaise…