Almaty, Kazakhstan

  • Date
  • 27 March 1999

27 March 1999 – We joined friends in Almaty for dinner in a high-class yurt, which was completely different from the roadside yurt where we ate lunch a week ago. When we arrived, on the table we found platters of food (cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley and carrots, mutton, horse, baked bread and fried bread, almost like my Grandmother Parker’s cornbread). I tasted a bite of the mutton, which was too strong for me, and neither Jim nor I tried the horse. Vodka (this is the land of vodka!), beer, juice and water were served to everyone. The next course included soup (broth with chives and layer of visible grease on the top) that everyone drank since this is the custom and no spoons were on the table. Then a platter of egg noodles, which was almost the size of my Grandmother’s thick strips of pastry she once rolled by hand, and another platter of meat, which I think was beef. I used a shaker of paprika (no pepper on the table) to spice up the egg noodles and then the beef shashlik on metal skewers arrived loaded with onions on top. We had raisins, dried apricots and walnuts for dessert and, of course, tea to conclude the feast.