Jetlag still has a strong control over my life, but I think that S. and I are liking Almaty (Kazakhstan). We have mostly just wandered around our neighborhood, gone grocery shopping, taken a trip to “Mega” (a mall several miles away from our home), driven around the city with friends, and gone up the mountains to a restaurant with some colleagues of mine. We do have internet and cable– so S. is enjoying watching the World Cup and we even went to a bar with friends to watch Germany solidly beat Argentina. All and all, things are good. Now, if I could just stop waking up at 5am!
There is one notable food experience that I want to tell you about though. We went, with someone from the office who was sent to show us around, to eat at “Guns and Roses”. Yes, there is a restaurant called Guns and Roses. It was closed though, so I can’t talk about their food. Hungry, we ventured to “Noodles”. S. ordered lamb chops, the person from work “tortillas” (which were much more like calzones), and I ordered beef with a side of mashed potatoes. My beef came with a funny dressing, but was okay. S. lamb chops were good, but too small. I shared some of my beef, which he tried. A funny look came over his face as he nibbled, and then he said:
“Do you know what you are eating?”
“Some beef-thing. I think the menu said it was supposed to be from Belgium.”
“So, you don’t know?”
S. smiles and giggles.
“I think you are eating Mr. Ed.”
“The menu said ‘beef'”.
“That is not beef.”
I guess he could be right. Horse is a specialty here. In the supermarket, we probably saw more horse meat than any other type. It is a bit darker and purpler in color when raw. Also, if you have ever used bablefish (or any other online translator) or you have giggled at a silly or inaccurate translation while overseas (“squashed potatoes” comes to mind), then you know translated menus are not always reliable. So, perhaps I ate Mr. Ed. Or, perhaps, it was just not tasty beef.
And, for those of you who are intrigued by the idea of eating horse, here is a recipe I found online for Beshbarmak, the national, traditional dish of Kazakhstan.
Beshbarmak is a national dish of Kasakhstan. It is traditionally made of horse or mutton meat, but also commonly made with horse. Its name means “five fingers” (besh = five and barmak = fingers) as it is typically eaten with one’s hands. The broth is typically served in Chinese-style cups without handles called pialas.
For the broth: 4 ½ pounds horse with bones 10 ½ Cups water For the noodles: 4 ½ Cup flour 2 Eggs 1 Cup water 1 Teaspoon salt For the vegetable portion: 1 Onion, chopped 1 Carrot, chopped 3 Tablespoons oil, for sautéing Garnish: 3 Onions, cut into thin rings 1 Cut chives, minced 3 Tablespoons parsley, minced 1 Teaspoon ground black pepper
Step 1 Cook the horse in the 10.5 cups water over medium-low heat. Cover and simmer for 2.5 hours until meat is easily separated from the bones. Step 2 While horse is cooking make a dough with the 4.5 cups flour, 2 eggs. Mix well and roll into 12-inch circles about 1/2 – 3/4-inch thick. Step 3 When the horse is ready remove from the broth. Remove the meat from the bones and cut into chunks. Step 4 In a saute pan, add the one chopped onion, chopped carrot and the horse meat and sauté until the onions are golden. Step 5 Bring the horse broth back to a boil and add the noodle circles. Cook until cooked through. Step 6 To serve, place the horse in the middle of a large serving dish. Place one layer of noodles around the horse. Sprinkle the horse and noodles with black pepper and onions that were cut into thin rings. Serve the broth separately in small individual bowls and sprinkle with chopped chives and parsley.