Image from Wikipedia

Who knows about Mongolian food?

Much to my dismay, though not my surprise, Mongolian food is not Mongolian Beef or Mongolian Barbecue (God, I love Mongolian BBQ…).  Rather, Mongolian food is meat, meat and more meat, with maybe a root vegetable thrown in for good measure. Why all the meat? An examination of the climate and the people lends some insight into the seemingly bland and monotonous cuisine of the great white world that occupies a large chunk of Asia.

First off- the climate. It’s cold. SO cold.  Cold enough that it makes the latest polar vortex look like beach weather.  Temperatures average below freezing from November through March and are about freezing in April and October. January and February averages of -20° C are not uncommon and summers are too short to provide a good growing season for the green stuff.  Given these temperatures, it’s no surprise that Mongolians depend on fatty, hearty meat dishes to stay warm and insulated all winter long. Really, we do the same thing. Who makes a nice hearty chili at the first sign of cooling temperatures in the fall? I sure do.

the vanishing cultures project

Image from the Vanishing Cultures Project

As for the people, for the past 3,000 plus years the Mongolians have been nomads, and it’s a lifestyle that continues today. The people of the “steppes” pick up and move 4-5 times a year, searching for the best grazing for their livestock. Livestock is the major source of their livelihood, and they depend on it for meat, dairy, transportation and wool.  Hence, all the meat, and their top five barnyard friends are sheep, goats, cows, horses and camels (well, camels may not be all that barnyard. Well, maybe. I guess it depends where you barn.  Sorry-stream of consciousness moment).  Because of the culture’s heavy dependence on livestock, agriculture isn’t a priority and therefore neither are veggies on the plate.

So, few veggies. Lots of meat.

Needless it say, it was difficult to come up with new and exciting eats for this week (and I didn’t think any of us would be into salted milk). So, I’ll give you two and then flashback to Japan and Russia since I left a few things off those lists:

Mash up stew. Part Guriltai Shul (Soup with meat and fried noodles), part Budaatai Khuurge (Stew with rice, vegetables and meat)

the vanishing cultures project2

Image from the Vanishing Cultures Project

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