There is a saying about the south-western Chinese province of Guizhou: “Not three feet of flat land, not three days without rain, not a family with three silver coins.” But, with the help of a spicy condiment, Tao Huabi, also known as China’s “hottest woman”, has well and truly defied this rule.
Tao Huabi is the woman behind Lao Gan Ma Spicy Chilli Crisp, a hot, crunchy sauce of chopped chillies that are fried to a red so dark it is almost black. The name means “old godmother” and everyone who picks a jar up must face the stern look of a short-haired woman. Open it, and you find the formidable combination of the odd peanut, a few crunchy, salty soya beans, MSG, and oil so infused with the chilli that it seems to glow. It looks almost dangerous.