You are about to visit a fair in Almaty, Kazakhstan. We are not sure if you get hungry after seeing this, but for people fairs held from time to time is a nice opportunity to buy food cheaper than usual. That day a lot of meat was offered for sale.
Everything was starting quite tritely: from onions, potatoes and cabbage. It’s quite ordinary for October. But then let’s turn out the corner…
Here is what we can find there… A lot of mutton!
Do you often see people carrying carcasses on their shoulders?
But it’s quite ordinary for Kazakhstan. Meat, mainly mutton and horseflesh, is the most important element of the national cuisine.
They like to joke that the Kazakhs are the second meat eaters in the world … after wolves.
Meat eating culture has been forming in the country for centuries by nomads.
Real Kazakh can eat a lot of meat at a stretch. When a boy doesn’t eat much meat he is told to be “adam bolmaidy” which means “won’t become a man”.
Horseflesh is probably the favorite meat in Kazakhstan. They cook a big variety of dishes from it.
The best age of horses to give meat is two or three years old. Sometimes they are fed much before slaughtering in order a layer of fat on the belly exceeded the palm width.
They always procure meat for the winter season.
However people of Kazakhstan do not eat so much meat they used to eat long time ago. Horseflesh is already considered to be special delicacy. While cooking traditional dishes it is often combined with other types of meat or fully replaced by mutton or beef.
“Beshbarmak” is the prime national dish. Its name is translated as “Five fingers”. The dish represents a large amount of meat broth with noodles. It should be cooked from mutton or horseflesh, sometimes beef and goat’s flesh can be used.
Like other eastern people, the Kazakhs are very hospitable. If they have a guest in their house they traditionally slaughter a sheep and make a holiday table.
Following the old tradition they pray before slaughtering an animal to thank Allah and souls of ancestors. Then an animal’s throat is cut to let all the blood flow out.
The seller and the buyer are looking for something inside the carcass with interest.
Sheep’s heads are also widely used. A boiled head is considered to be delicacy not only in Kazakhstan but in other countries as well (China, Iraq etc.). It is served as a whole piece and the most respected member of a family can butcher it.
But the cuisine of the nomadic herders is not only meat but various dairy too. For example a drink made from camel milk is rather popular. It is not exported because it has a short shelf life.
What can a vegetarian buy here? This dried melon is a nice choice! It is very tasty!
But local apples are worth attention too. British scientists concluded that the first eadible sweet apples appeared in the region of present Kazakhstan, two thousand meters above sea level, near the border with China.
They have no problems with vegetables too.
Right at the fair there were such yurts where all visitors were treated to tasty food.
It’s always nice to come back to such a hospitable country!