Gastronomic Adventures!

7 10 2010

This week has been quite the culinary adventure for me.

First, on Tuesday, a couple of us went to Cafe Jalalabad, a restaurant downtown serving Central Asian cuisine.  I’m not sure what possessed me, but I was feeling adventurous, so I ordered beef tongue salad as my appetizer, followed by the much more normal sheep shashlik (basically meat on a metal skewer).  The tongue was actually really tasty, and I could have eaten more of it except for the fact that I’d ordered two shashliks.

Then the topic of kumys came up.  Kumys is fermented mare’s milk.  It’s only available readily during the warmer months, and we’re at the tail end of the kumys season in Kyrgyzstan.  And Cafe Jalalabad just so happened to have it on the menu.  And we just so happened to order a liter of it.  And it tasted…um…terrible.  It was kind of like drinking sour milk that exploded in your sinuses when you swallowed it the way that horseradish does.  I’m glad I tried it, and a couple of the people at the table didn’t hate it.  But I was not a fan.  However, I’ve been told that it’s best to get kumys fresh in a village during the summer.  So I’ll have to give it a go again during my travels around the country next summer.  I mean why not, right?

Oh, but we’re not done!  After having dinner at a Korean restaurant for Stuart’s birthday last week, the topic of what odd or unusual foods we’d consumed came up.  I had my usual list of things to offer: guinea pig (in Ecuador), alligator (in North Carolina), pigeon (in Egypt), crickets and beetles (in Cambodia), alpaca (in Bolivia) and yak (in Tibet).  A few of the people at the table had eaten dog, either in Korea or in Vietnam, and it was revealed that there was a restaurant in Bishkek that served canine.  I had passed up the opportunity to have dog in Vietnam, mostly because no one from our group would go with me.  And I’ve regretted it ever since.  So Cole, one of the teachers at the London School, and I mad a man-date to go eat some dog!

And it was awesome!  There were two options: dog soup and plate of dog meat.  Cole’s girlfriend and I ordered the dog meat, and Cole and Kevin (another teacher) ordered the dog soup.  The food came, and my first thought was that these must have been fairly scrawny dogs.  There wasn’t a ton of meat on the plate, and a little of it was still on the bone, but what was there was cooked in this delicious spicy sauce.  The meat itself didn’t really taste any different than any other red meat, and I would definitely do it again!  I tried Cole’s soup, which was significantly blander.  It was edible, but it honestly just didn’t have a whole lot of flavor at all…which wasn’t the dog’s fault.

So there we have it!  Cow tongue, fermented mare’s milk and dog, all in a 36 hour period.  The other major “weird” food that I’ve yet to try in Kyrgyzstan is horse sausage…but I’m sure it’ll happen soon enough!

 

Vocabulary:

 

Tongue: язык (yah-ZUYK)
Guinea Pig: морская свинка (MOHR-skah-yah SVEEN-kah)
Dog: собака (sah-BAH-kah)
Sheep: овец  (ah-VYETS)
Mare: кобыла (kah-BUY-lah)
Horseradish: хрен (KHREN)
Alligator: аллигатор (ah-lee-GAH-tor)
Pigeon: голубь (GOH-loob)
Cricket: сверчок (svair-CHOHK)
Beetle: жук (ZHOOK)

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4 responses

7 10 2010
alberto

kurt, I’m not going to tell you how and where they find the dogs (and how and where they kill them), but you can see by yourself how the streets of Bishkek are crammed of “raw material” in this sense 🙂

9 10 2010
kurtinkstan

Mwahahaha! It’s all about sourcing food locally, right?

13 10 2010
Matthew Revilla

Kurt, the vocabulary at the end of your entries is awesome, but I gotta ask…where’s the IPA? 😛

16 10 2010
kurtinkstan

I know, I know. I should IPA all over this joint. But it’s a pain in the butt enough switching back and forth between the Cyrillic and Latin alphabets.

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