Swimming, Barbecue, Russia
On Wednesday morning I went to the market with Tsagaana to buy some meat and other ingredients for a picnic at Uvs Noor. We had two Land Cruisers of relatives who would go, and the main course would be barbecued mutton. There would be a salad too, and after a phone call from her brother-in-law requesting a chunk of the meat we bought at the market, I learned that I was participating in a barbecue competition. Suree, Tsagaana's brother-in-law, would prepare his version, and I would prepare mine, with the ingredients I could find at the market. While I had a reputation to defend, I didn't really know too much about my competition. I shuttered at the fact that he had many serious metal skewers, and that Suree looked like he had eaten a lot of barbecued mutton. So I did my best and invented a Mongolian marinade that started with garlic and Russian ketchup, and ended with sea buckthorn juice.
It took a while, but after arriving at this far-north salt lake (It has no outlet. I read somewhere that the lake is five times as salty as the ocean, but that is not what I found there. It didn't burn my eyes or nose and it only tasted mildly salty.) and discovering that it was comfortable enough to swim in, I joined the kids and swam for a while before getting down to business. Suree would cook on wood. I got charcoal, which he had never cooked on. His marinade was Russian, with mayonnaise and onions. He used a sprayer to control the flames. His meat was done first, and it was delicious. In the end, we didn't vote. He explained that in addition to the fact that he had never used charcoal, he had never barbecued before.
After our feast I swam some more in the lake, floating on my back as I watched the mountains in Russia across the lake.