If you like Chinese takeout, then you'll be blown away by cuisine in the capital of the Sichuan province, Chengdu. The Sichuan area is known for flavor and Chengdu cuisine has been shaped by many outside influences. For example, you'll find many vegetable-based meals, a reflection of the Buddist -- and vegetarian -- culture of the region. You'll also find beef dishes because oxen are used in the region for both agriculture and food.
Interestingly, one of the most popular ingredients in Sichuan cuisine -- the chili pepper -- was actually introduced to China from the Americas. The locals loved the pepper and use it in nearly everything, believing that spicy food cools the body in summer and warms the blood in winter. In Chengdu eateries, you'll find smoky, salty, sour and spicy flavors -- sometimes all in one dish, interwoven and textured.