Dear hot sauces,

Let’s discuss what makes hot sauce the best thing in the world: It’s spicy, it’s flavorful and that’s all you really need to know.

But if you wanted to know more, I’ll tell you what I think makes it so awesome. They’re the same but different. They’re the same as in, they’re all sauces, made from chiles that provide those burning tingles on your tongue (in a good way). Yet, each flavor is different: They can be sweet or savory and each is unique to the meal it belongs on. I would imagine you could put Sriracha on tacos or Cholula in Chinese food (yeah, I did that once). I’m sure you’d get the same burning sensation, but the flavor wouldn’t be quite right. It would be a tiny bit off, wouldn’t it?

There’s so much science behind it, I’d wager that each hot sauce was specified to match the dish it goes with (maybe not, but I think it makes food that much more magical). So thanks hot sauce, for being you.

Love,
A

Hot sauce is an integral part of food and life.

Hot sauce is an integral part of food and life.

Dear fried intestines

Don't care how it sounds, it's an adventure worth taking.

Don’t care how it sounds, it’s an adventure worth taking.

I remember a time in my life when I ordered very particular items off the menu because I didn’t like this or I didn’t like that. Not sure when the change came about, but at some point I decided that I need to know undeniably that I don’t like a certain food before it goes on the “Don’t Like It” list. And that list is really short. Like, empty.

When I heard Jade Garden had printed its authentic menu in English, I leapt over there immediately to try something new.

I don’t think I could compare fried intestines to anything common in American cuisine. Maybe calamari. The fried bits outside are really good, crunchy but not too crunchy (and frankly, isn’t the best part of calamari the fried batter?). The intestine itself doesn’t burst with any particular flavor but has a meaty, chewy, slightly greasy texture. Dip it in a sauce, and really, it’s an enjoyable appetizer.

For my entree, I had a delicious chicken and rice dish, and I think what made it so good was that the chicken was still on the bone. And rice. Oh, the rice!

I’m ready for my second foray into the authentic menu.

Love,
A

Hainanese chicken over rice for the entree.

Hainanese chicken over rice for the entree.

Dear Encore Cafe,

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I’m actually offended with myself that it took so long for me to find you. Hold on a moment while I give myself a good hand slap. Your chow fun is to die, the calamari is from my fantasy, and I wish you were next to my house so I could walk to you every day. But then I’d be fat and poor, and I’d be OK with that. Please never leave me.

Encore Cafe can be found at 1007 Massachusetts St. in the heart of Lawrence, Kansas.