Today, chilis are strongly associated with Hunanese cuisine, which is regarded as the spiciest Chinese regional cuisine. However, Chinese recipe books didn't start mentioning chilis until the 1790s, and the very earliest imports of chilis into China didn't start until the 16th century.
What was Hunanese food like before the introduction of chilis? Did they find other sources of heat? Or were other flavors favored before peppers were introduced?