Thursday, 12 August 2010

Five Fingers

Yesterday I went over to Marat the Meat’s as the horses were being shod, the first time for all of them. Not too traumatic, though the bay and the pony were put down on their sides in the traditional Central Asian way to have their back shoes fitted. Here is the bay being shod before he proved too troublesome to be done standing. However they all seem relatively amenable, and hopefully with handling this will not have to be repeated. The wooden platform in the foreground is commonly found in Central Asia, and with a colourful carpet spread on it can be used for al fresco dining.I tried the packsaddle and saddle bags out on the pony (just in the stable) and he did not seem particularly fazed out, so with a bit of luck we will not have too many hairy runaway incidents. They are all basically friendly, and I was able to brush them all over without any problems which is encouraging.It was the last night before the onset of Ramazan, the Muslim fasting month, so the family were having a traditional Kazakh ‘beshbarmak’ to fortify themselves for the rigours ahead. I was invited as guest of honour. Beshbarmak means ‘five fingers’ as it is traditionally eaten using them. It consists of chunks of boiled meat served up on a bed of flat pasta which has been cooked in the meat broth. Our beshbarmak included horse meat and potato, and was accompanied by bowls of kefir, a kind of fermented milk similar to yoghurt which we could add to the dish.
Here is the meat being boiled up by Marat the Meat on an outside stove….
…and here is the family consuming the tasty results, although I tried to avoid the bits of equine innards with which it was laced. Marat the Meat is on the right with his son, and his wife is on the left. The girl in the middle is his fifteen year old daughter Arai, who speaks some English, so is continually hauled in to interpret.In front of the table is a bowl of the meat broth in which the meat and pasta was cooked, and which we drank afterwards from bowls. An enormous juicy watermelon was produced as well.

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