Word of the week: má
I love eating Szechuan hotpot (sì chuān huǒ guō) but there are some things you shouldn’t do after eating it, such as a gym session. sì chuān huǒ guō is usually pretty spicy (là) and that doesn’t sit on the stomach too well during a set of squats. I found this out the hard way the other week. I also discovered that it tastes even spicier (gèng là) the second time round when coming back up.
In Chinese there are two types of là. There is the là you get from chilies and then there is má là (literally “numb spicy”) which seems to be a distinctive trait of sì chuān pepper corns. If you want to know what má là is like they you can try sì chuān huǒ guō or you can try the spicy duck neck that is a specialty of Wuhan.
ma can generally be translated as numb, but má zuì (numb drunk) actually means to be under general anesthetic. Also, marijuana is called dà má, which we could interpret to mean big numb. If you smoke a lot of dà má then big numb might be a fitting description.