So far, #72 sichuan peppercorns are the most fun ingredient I have tried from Food & Wine's 100 Tastes to try in 2007 list. Not because it is unique like the truffle teas or funky like the charcoal peanuts. The fun part is that your tongue goes numb when you eat one of these peppercorns. And in a really different way. It's like only the top layer of your tonque goes numb, not like getting a novicane shot or anything like that.
Sichuan pepper is one of the most ancient Chinese spices and it is know for its tongue-numbing and lip-tingling effects. I only had one and it must not have been enough to tingle my lips, but I am intrigued! I have seen this ingredient all over the place lately but I am not sure if that is because I have just started paying attention to it or if it is becoming more popular in food. Sichuan pepper doesn't taste anything at all like black pepper. And it's not very hot like a red chile pepper or something like that. But they are fun and I look forward to making more recipes with them. So far, I made Numbing-and-Hot Chicken and it was super yummy!