Husband and Wife Lung Slices

A classic Sichuan starter is now winning plaudits abroad

“A numbing, burning, textural masterpiece, and the kind of thing a budding empire is built on” was how GQ food critic Brett Martin described his “Appetizer of the Year” in the US magazine’s April issue.

Chinese readers may not immediately recognize the Sichuan dish from its American name—Pepper Twins, the Houston restaurant where Martin ate, calls it “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” after the Hollywood action-comedy starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie—but foodies can probably guess that Martin was referring to the classic fuqi feipian (夫妻肺片), a name that literally means “husband and wife lung slices.”

A more descriptive translation should be “sliced beef and ox tongue in chili sauce,” because, despite the gory nickname, fuqi feipian has nothing to do with human flesh, or even lung for that matter. The appetizer consists of thinly sliced beef and organs (usually cow heart, tongue, or tripe; actual lung is rarely used), served cold—and spicy.

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author Sun Jiahui (孙佳慧)

Sun Jiahui is a freelance writer and former editor at The World of Chinese. She writes about Chinese language, society and culture, and is especially passionate about sharing stories of China's ancient past with a wider audience. She has been writing for TWOC for over six years, and pens the Choice Chengyu column.

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