“Can you make it a little spicy,” I asked the server at my local Sichuan greasy spoon.
“Are you sure?” the 19-year-old waitress says with that mix of disbelief, condescension, and surprise in Sichuan-accented Mandarin that makes you want to move to Chengdu and fall in love.
“Yes. I like spicy.”
“Foreigners can eat spicy?” she asks/declares to her colleague standing nearby.
Yes. Foreigners can eat spicy.
Don’t judge me, just leave me to my “benign masochism” and bring on the chilies.