Yesterday Altantsatsral and Gulnar came to our house to teach us how to make buuz
, Mongolia's version of a meat-filled dumpling and one of its traditional foods. In the course of the afternoon we went to places in the market I had not yet seen. We needed to buy ground sheep meat, (mutton, not lamb) the fermented milk ingredient to make aarts
, (a hot drink that is sour and has flour in it,) and seasoning for the buutz. It's not clear what our next attempt at making buutz will be like, but even in our sparsely equipped kitchen theirs were nearly perfect, executed in two different styles. One was the Mongolian style, which ends up like a pinwheel. The other was in the Khazak style, folded like a calzone and pinched in a very stylized way. Although mine were pathetic in comparison, they all tasted like they would keep a person warm in a Mongolian blizzard. The kilogram of mutton contains plenty of fat, and it is wrapped in dough made with another kilo of flour. The finished dumplings are then steamed. Although the four of us put a pretty good dent in the batch we made, there are still leftovers in the refrigerator, even after an early lunch today.
When they were leaving, Gulnar asked if I was free today, Saturday. She told me that they would be killing a horse, and she wondered if I would like to come and watch. December 6 is the first anniversary of her father's death and they plan a large party to commemorate him. This would be a special horse. It would be used to feed those coming to celebrate.
It is not the kind of invitation you receive every day, and it's not the kind of invitation you pass up if you are curious about a culture that is so dependent on the animals they raise. I'll save that experience for another notebook though.