Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Prickly Ash Oil- An international tale of sorts

My sister, "Gigi" and her friend, "Ness" were here for a visit from the west coast and we had many great dinners together.  Last Sunday my sister made Gyozas-  a.k.a. pot stickers.  Somewhere between Saturday and Sunday the hunt was on at an Asian market to get ingredients.  After multiple trips to the store, our meal was on the table. The kids made their usual, "this is foreign to me, I'm not sure I will like it, it's yucky, can I have something else?" comments.  The adult girls sat down with our food & wine,  after the little people left, and began to eat and chat.   Soy Sauce was used to dip the gyozas in  and it was mixed with something called, "prickly ash oil". Interesting name right?  The sauce had an incredibly unique flavor.  And by unique I mean odd.  So I decided to pour a little more oil on my little rectangular Japanese appetiser plate.  I then proceeded to try the oil-straight!  What on earth did I do that for?  It was as if someone took my tongue and coated it with soapy oil and it felt slightly tingly but more thickly coated than tingly.  How could I finish my gyoza with my tongue out of commission and without offending my sister who flew  over 1000 miles to see me and cook this Japanese meal which was now ruined because I helped myself and doused my plate with Prickly Ash Oil?  How could I eat the  corn on my plate with it sitting in small pool of Prickly Ash Oil? So I asked myself,  "If I clicked my heels 3 times would I then be transported to Kansas or would the Prickly Ash Oil disappear off my plate?"

  So many thoughts ran through my plate as I stared at it.  I still ate my gyozas and washed it down with a nice little drinkie but my tongue felt odd none the less. My brain and thoughts were now in overdrive.  I then figured that it was probably Prickly Ash Oil from my lips got into the glass because even my drink did not taste the same!!!!   So I asked for more to drink in a  clean glass. All the while I was waiting for Alfred Hitchcock to slowly walk from around the corner to let me know that I have now entered the Twilight Zone.

I should have known something wasn't right because the bottle did not have any English translation except for the ingredients and it didn't look like it was for human consumption. I even noticed the numbers 2003 and under it 2005 which only could mean that it was packaged in 2003 and expired in 2005!  It's 2011 right?  But it was too late! I already had some.  It didn't offer a 'the kick' I was looking for.  It wasn't suppose to.  I sipped my drink and that didn't help and I sat there befuddled and we got in to a roaring laughing conversation about Prickly Ash Oil  that has been ongoing for the last 3 days!  The conversation seems to run from "what was I thinking eating it straight?" to  "the lady at the store showed me the pepper it came from and  I was told it was the right oil", "It's not hot" "It's supposed to be hot" "not supposed to be hot" "My tongue feels coated" "Can we have that with Prickly Ash Oil?" and comments of the like interspersed with laughter and cackling.  After all that drama, I had to do a little "research" about Prickly Ash Oil.

What I found out is that the Prickly Ash peppercorns are used in Chinese food- not necessarily the fast food Chinese food we get. But in conjunction with other oils.  That thick coated prickly feeling on my tongue was not in my imagination!  It does produce a tingly numbness.   And it also is used for homeopathic purposes: Inflammation, stomach aches, ulcers, bowel diseases,   tooth aches, circulation- tons of other  ailments.    Needless to say Gigi tossed the Prickly Ash Oil into that trash. It probably would have made a good lubricant for door hinges or  could have shined up my tires like Armour All, but, guess I'll never know.  One thing I do know is that I will stay far away from the Prickly Ash  in the future.  I'm so traumatized, I might even start a support group: "PAOVU" "Prickly Ash Oil Victims Unite!"

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