Saturday, August 7, 2010


People always ask about the food in foreign places, and I have plenty to say and show about food in Kazakhstan.

Included in our hotel stay were three meals a day. This food was described as Soviet style. The breakfast buffet included everything from pickled beet salad to sausages to yogurt. Usually there was some type of porridge (heavy on the cream or butter), meat leftover from yesterday (possibly chicken wings), and occasionally we had some sunflower halva which the Americans fell in love with. Lunch, being the largest meal started with salad, continued with soup and ended with a meat and starch dish. Here's a photo with the salad and soup. Dinner looked similar but without the soup, and sometimes had a fruity-bready dessert.

This cafeteria-style food got old quickly, so we frequented the market at the end of the street. The outside looks like a typical fruit and veggie stand. Most of the produce seems to come from Uzbekistan. Step just inside the door, and you can fill a plastic 2-liter bottle with local beer or kvass fresh from the tap.

The downtown Green Market offered more variety. Dried fruits and nuts:

Horse sausages, a rib, and a load of fat:

Pork is actually not that popular due to the large Muslim population, but who could resist such a photo? And seriously, what does one do with a whole pig head? There weren't sheep or cow or horse heads hanging around. The most common meat is probably lamb/mutton followed closely by beef. Horse is more of a specialty and is usually served as a thin slices of sausage which are quite tender and tasty.

We had a couple of meals in yurts, featuring Kazakh food. The most memorable part of the meal is of course, kumys (fermented horse milk) and shubat (camel milk), pictured below with our Coke chaser hiding behind. The meat you see in the foreground is lamb - various parts. If it doesn't have bones in it, it is probably liver.

Here's a view of the low table inside a yurt with our salads and bread being served:

Meanwhile, the carrots for plov are boiling:

Another typical feast (not in a yurt) featured brilliantly arranged salads (and you can barely see the plate of sliced meat including liver, heart and sausage hiding behind the fried dough).

While we were in Kazakhstan, we were able to try the variety of dishes that people from other areas of the world have brought... most notably Korean dog soup. I personally did not eat this, but was told that it tasted like any other dark meat. The soup is served boiling hot with just broth and meat. Those little white bowls of stuff are things to add to one's own taste.

String cheese.
I'll end with dessert. Every cake is a work of art. They truly look too good to eat! Seriously, I wouldn't eat one because I'm sure it would be a disappointment.

I tried a lovely cupcake with my afternoon tea one day, only to discover that I needed a sledgehammer to get through the frosting and then the cake was really a dry cookie. But it had plenty of sugar, so I was happy.

They like to call kumys the national drink. But from what I've seen, tea must be the national drink. They drink it morning, noon and night... brewing it up quite hot and strong and then loading it up with milk and sugar.

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