The next day, I visited Yun's father, Xu Shengguo, a retired engineer who'd cooked for his family for decades. With practiced efficiency, Shengguo whipped up hui guo rou, pork belly stir-fried with chile paste, dou chi (salty, black fermented soybeans), and garlic scallions. As the ingredients sizzled, the chile smoke rising from the pan nearly made me sneeze. Shengguo also produced yu xiang you cai, using the fish-fragrant technique on rape greens. He finished by making ma yi shang shu, literally, "ants climbing a tree," a homely dish of glass noodles stir-fried with ground pork. We sat and dug in, and between the crisp and spicy pork belly, the tender and slightly bitter you cai, and the slippery glass noodles, the meal was as complex and balanced as anything I'd eaten out in the city. But it was also casual, just Papa Piggy preparing dishes he knew intimately and riffing on classics. At home, it seemed, Sichuan cuisine was a style, an approach that encouraged innovation, not a rigid canon. I was bowled over.