Alright, so it has been pointed out to me that I really need ‘ta get my stuff together and update you all on what the heck I’ve been doing over here the last couple weeks. But since there has been SO much that I could potentially tell ya about, I am going to just break it down and tell about one of my food experiences. I will try to post again in the next few days. Life has just been a bit crazy busy for me lately...
A staple to any culture is food, yes? Kyrgyz is no different. Eating and drinking together is a huge part of how they bond here. My host mom wakes up every morning to make me breakfast and then has dinner ready for me every night when I come home. The funniest thing is how every day we trade off whose house we go to for lunch (between the 5 others in our language group it is set up so each host mom cooks for us once a week) and when I get home after ‘school’ one of the first questions my HM (host mom) asks is where we ate and what they made. It is an unofficial competition between the moms to see who can feed us the best meal. No complaints from us though, because the food is AWESOME!
Story time: Earlier this month, Aidi (my little host sister) showed me that they bought a sheep and it was out in the barn. My first thought was, oh no! That is going to be dinner in a few days, eek! Well, I got home from school a couple days later and we were outback planting some vegetables when I noticed that the sheep was gone. I was like hm, yeap, they must have slaughtered it today. And then Aigul (my host mom) and I went into the kitchen house and it smelled ‘interesting’. As many of my food stories begin, it starts with walking into the kitchen house and noticing something smells a little… off. Like something is being cooked up that maaaaaaay not fit into my regular dietary regime. Thankfully there wasn’t just a giant sheep carcass laying there or anything, BUT she was boiling the intestines… I was DREADING dinner time. I couldn’t have been more relieved when like 20 minutes later I sat down to dinner and saw that she had potatoes on plates. Whew! Crisis averted!! Or not… I looked over and saw that she had used the intestine water to boil them AND she was putting the noodles into the same water. Yeah, dinner that night was just potatoes and noodles boiled in sheep intestine water. I got through most of the potatoes and almost threw up when I choked down three bites of the noodles. There were bits of intestine in there and it tasted like animal product. Aigul is a pretty perceptive lady and was asking me if I was ok. I was like yeah, I am fine! I kept eating until I honestly thought I was going to vomit when I saw a chunk in my noodles. I then told her I was “toydum” (full) from an ice-cream cone I bought earlier at the bazaar. That seemed to make sense to her and she was OK with me not finishing. (Come to find out a week or so later, eating icecream before dinner is not that uncommon here, so perhaps that is why this worked out to my benefit) I was proud of myself for getting that far into the meal. I kept my composure a lot better than I would have guessed. I think she only noticed, because normally I gobble down whatever she makes. It is always SOOO good! Possibly one of the highlights of this happening was when I was sitting at the table looking at my HM in the kitchen and I asked “where did the sheep go?” and her response was to laugh REALLY hard and say “Megan, it is off guesting at a friend’s…” She is a great lady with an awesome sense of humor.
And honestly, that was my first time NOT being able to eat whatever I have been served. Overall the food has been AMAZING. And with the language barrier that I am working with I normally have ZERO idea what type of meat or other product I am consuming, so I just go with the flow. In Krygyz they call all meat, MEAT. They don’t differentiate which type of meat it is, they have one word for meat and that is what they call everything. So, if I don’t ask more about it, they don’t say. It works out great for me so I don’t have to think about what I am ingesting. I can down anything if it is shelled in a delicious homemade noodle. Well, as long as it wasn’t boiled in intestine water. :)