Cacio e Pepe is a classic Italian dish that’s pretty hard to mess up but also very difficult to innovate. There are only so many things you can change without the threat of a gaggle of internet-enabled Italians coming after you with pitchforks and colorful expletives.
Source: “Spicy Numbing” Cacio e Pepe
According to Alton Brown, sichuan peppercorns are 1 of the 5 spices in “five-spice powder” …and that it isn’t really a peppercorn.
Sichuan peppercorns need to be toasted before they are ground up and used! I find that they don’t exhibit any of their mouth-numbing flavor unless I do that. You can do that in a pinch by sticking them on a microwave-safe plate for 15-20 seconds before grinding them.