Gerald Zhang-Schmidt has engaged with the chilli all his adult life. From a teen concern about ecological sustainability came a fascination with the links between people and plants, especially the “peppers”, and their potential to influence things for the better.
From that came spicy microexploration from the backyard all the way to China, between chilli growing and spicy cooking.
In China, Gerald found the right place for a love of chilli that is not just based on the attraction of extreme pungency, but about a balance of heat, flavor, and the aromas achieved from different kinds of preparation, using different types of chilli.
He found combinations with other pungent spices, from ginger and garlic to “wood ginger” (mujiangzi / shanhujiao) and Sichuan peppers that tickled not just his tongue, but also his botanical and culinary interest.
He found the woman here who became his wife. And other people similarly interested in the economic potential and culinary passion that is spicy Chinese food and the kinds of chilli that kick its flavors up a few notches; its use and its spread – and how the chilli connects people and places across the world.
“Red Hot China” is the result of this life path and these serendipitous encounters.