Gourmet gers

by Charlie
(Derbyshire, U.K.)

On most days we were driving and walking/horseriding/camel riding during the day and we'd arrive at a ger in the early evening. At every ger we were greeted with a bowl of milk tea with salt and often hard tasteless biscuits.

We'd chat a bit (via our translator) to the family and play with the (really cute) kids. Later on the man of the ger would always bring out the meat. We were sometimes eased in gently with a round of steamed mutton dumplings but we would nearly always eventually move on to the bucket of indiscernible meat bits. Eating this involved sitting (usually on the floor) around the bucket with most of the family either being passed bits of meat of being passed a knife to hack away at the nearest bit. We had to eat not just the juicy meat bits but also big bits of fat that were passed to us and slices of intestine (it's wasteful not to). It was really hard to stomach and i managed to decline sometimes but our driver always insisted that the boys ate loads. The first night we were eating horse meat but i think it was mainly mutton for the rest of the trip.

In the winter Mongolians really don't eat anything other than meat and bland flour-based accompaniments. The meat is always old because they only slaughter the livestock when it's about to die anyway. It really would have been difficult to cope with for nine days if our guide hadn't cooked us veggie lunches on most days when we were on the road!

On many of the nights (after meat)someone in the family would get out a bag of (sheep and goat) ankle bones and we'd play a game that involved flicking them around the table. On some nights we got out the vodka- Mongolians seem to like it as much as the Russians did.

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