Designer’s Pick: High Voltage

In October, I shared with you my favorite part of the fall 2010 issue. It was Emily Robinson’s “Chef Talk” here. At the time, Emily was a Flavors editorial intern, and I thought she did an amazing job gathering all the info for the article. (Emily wrote “Chef Talk” for the winter 2010 issue also–be sure to check it out.) I also had a great time designing the pages to look like a 1970s photo album.

And, my absolute favorite part of the winter 2010 issue, would be an article by Ramona Kimmel, a recent graduate of the culinary school of AIA. “High Voltage: A Taste That Tingles” is about the Szechwan Button. Ramona goes into the history and science of this strange plant and does her best to describe its …. taste?

One of the cool things about working on Flavors photoshoots at Haigwood Studios is that I get to try some of the dishes and drinks featured in the magazine. I was fortunate to be there when Ramona came in to have the drinks photographed. I had read the article and was very curious to try the flower. She gave me one of the yellow flowers, with no petals. It looked a bit like the center of a camomile flower. I split the head in half down the middle, thinking I would start with half a dose. I offered the other half to Haigwood intern, Bruce. Bruce refused.

The taste changed many times over the next few minutes. At first, it was like chewing on a weed–no big deal. Then it started to numb my mouth, kind of like chewing on a clove would do. A metallic taste started to form in my mouth as if I had touched my toungue to a 9V battery. Finally, I was kind of ready for the experience to end, the aftertaste having the feeling of the tingling that happens when part of the body falls asleep from lack of circulation.

The Szechwan Button is definitely more of a sensation than a taste for me.  Though I would be interested to try it sprinkled in a salad. Apparently, the Button has just started to be rediscovered and is not widely available yet. Also, for the full-effect, the flowers should be as fresh as possible.

I would love to get comments from others who have tried the Szechwan Button. How have you used it in food or drink and what kind of responses did it get?

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One Comment on “Designer’s Pick: High Voltage”

  1. ramonakimmel Says:

    I had so much fun experimenting with the Szechuan Button! I am honored that the article was chosen as the Designer’s Pick! Many Thanks!


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