…And sometimes it is a second course.
The trouble with sipping vodka is that a waiter may be continuously topping off your shot glass and you quickly lose track of just how much you have consumed. Once you get past the “Gees, I’m getting a little drunk, better slow down” a sort of nonsense mode sets in and you think, “Hey, this is leveling off, I just need to ride the wave, hey, look at me! I’m barely even buzzed! I’m king of the world! I’m king of the!”
And then much like regular surfing, that which you were once standing on becomes the sky somehow and that wave which is a truck-ton of vodka now pounds you into sand and sits on your head.
It was in this state that I decided I should give horse a try.
A large group of fair attendees had come by bus up the mountains to a traditional Kazakh restaurant just outside Almaty to have a final celebratory meal after the last day of the education fair. A local singer was karaokeying through some popular international hits in between doses of DJ mixes. Food came out in large quantities.
Manti (like Turkish mantı, meat dumplings but much bigger and served with sour cream not yogurt), salmon from the region, pickled items, meat-stuffed bread, and a platter of mystery meat. Mystery solved: it’s Trigger. It’s hi-ho, Silver. Guess who’s coming to dinner? It’s Mr. Ed.
The horse is a bit of a prized animal in Kazakh culture. They were nomads at one time and that horse meant everything. Stop in at the national museum in Almaty and there’s even an old burial site on display where the bones of a man are nestled up next to those of Kazakh-man’s best friend, his horse.
So it is somewhat remarkable that these respected beasts of burden end up on the menu. Some people love their dogs, but other than a few places around the world, no one prefers to eat Max or Fido. And where they do is generally not a dog-loving culture. Er, at least not dog-loving in the pet sense.
The horse came out of the gate in slices and in round cuts that showed a vein of fat. I tried to imagine where this almost circular cut came from and all I could come up with was a leg muscle. However, I wouldn’t know; I’m not a botanist.
Horseshoe crabs, totally different. Though eaten in Thailand. And here they… um. NSFW, you know? Don’t let the kids see.
So much about eating strange foods is entirely mental. Granted, venison really does taste different from beef, and bison does as well, albeit one might be fooled depending on how it’s prepared. But horse? Had I been blindfolded I would have said BEEF with total confidence. So there it is, folks, the anticlimactic ending to the I-ate-horse story.
Nevertheless, I felt moments of disgust as my brain knew damn well what we were having. It sure would be nice to able to shut that thing off sometimes. And the vodka went a pretty long way in that regard.