Galina Mamonova, About What We Ate When I was a Child
Galina recalls about what she ate in her childhood in the 1960s:My father was a shepherd. He slaughtered sheep by cutting their throat. Whenever we slaughtered a sheep, we collected its blood in a bowl and then stirred it by hand. We added salt, milk, spices and cooked it. It was so delicious! When people could not kill a sheep, they consumed dairy products, including chigyan (fermented milk drink), milk vodka, tea, and bulmg. Kalmyks did not have special dishes. When we returned home from Siberia, we did not have much food. Only 5-6 years later, when we were settled, could we afford enough food. We also ate ground squirrels (tushkanchik). When it rained, my grandfather used to take a bucket with water and go squirrel hunting. We followed him. My grandfather poured water into barrows and waited until the squirrels jumped out. He caught them and broke their neck. During a trip he could catch up to 7 squirrels. We sat next to him and looked how he did it. At home my grandfather skinned them and salted the skin. When he had enough skins, he sold them to some people. With the money he bought tobacco and small things like that. He fried or cooked ground squirrel meat by adding a lot of onions. That was in the 1960s. We also dried their meat. My grandfather ate dried meat himself. We also collected squirrel fat in bottles. My grandfather smeared fat on bread and ate it. Such fat is said to be good for tuberculosis. Many Kalmyks returned from Siberia with tuberculosis and they treated themselves with ground squirrel fat. Wolf’s meat, as my grandfather would say, is also good for respiratory diseases.