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Sergei Muchiryaev, Medicinal Diet and Kalmyk Cuisine

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Terbish, Baasanjav 


Sergei’s story:One woman had a son who grew up, got married and had a son of his own. That child cried nonstop. The woman understood that her daughter-in-law had watery milk and that the baby cried out of hunger. She went to the market and bought fat from a sheep’s tail. One evening her son said: ‘Mama, we are going to the cinema, could you look after your grandson?’ The woman relied: ‘Of course, off you go’. As soon as the young couple were gone, the woman boiled the fat and gave it to the baby. The baby sucked it and slept without interruption until the next morning. This is a real Kalmyk tradition. Today people say many strange things like ‘don’t eat this or that, because it is fatty’. Let people eat whatever meat or fat they want. Not long ago someone asked me whether I eat honey. I replied that I do not eat anything sweet. As a real Kalmyk, I drink milk tea with butter, eat bread with butter and horse meat sausages. I really like horse meat sausages. In the past, there were neither doctors nor medicine. When a person feels weak and sick, the following should be done. Cut meat into thin slices, put it into a pot and boil, without adding water. 2 spoonfuls of soup is what you get from the meat. Give this soup to the sick person. Some people say that water diluted with milk is also good. Half a spoon of milk is added to a cup of water. Here it is important to have the correct ratio, which we have already forgotten today. It is important to know the correct ratio. Sometimes it is difficult to determine what is wrong with a child. A Kalmyk person would immediately say that the child has a bad diet and that he/she needs a mutton soup. I think all people have their own remedies. A relative of mine used to chew tea leaves and say that it was good for his teeth. Today when we cook mutton, we throw out the head and legs. I personally think it is wrong, because no part of the sheep should go to waste. Why do we have a tradition called ‘ze byarlgn’ when we give a sheep’s tibia bone to our grandchildren to eat? The reason is so that their teeth become strong. Today, by contrast, people boil meat until it falls apart. The Mongols boil it a little bit and then eat with a knife. Why? So that the meat tastes like meat. When we boil meat for too long its taste goes to the soup (and little remains in the meat itself). Bone marrow is also edible. I teach children to eat bone marrow. They sit, knock the bone on the table to push the marrow out.



Medicinal diet, cuisine

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Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin