Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Monthly Montage: хоол mоол

Sunday brunch and Woman's Day dinner got me thinking about the way in which food can be a manifestation of love and caring. So this month's montage is about the way food brings people together. Note: In Mongolian adding 'm' in place of the first letter of a word means 'and stuff'. So хоол means 'food' and mоол means 'and stuff about food'.

This month's montage is something of a two-parter. The first half is about Cooking Club. Held at my apartment every other Saturday, it is one of my highlights of service thus far. Originally it was Mona's idea and started when she invited me to help teach her counterparts how to cook spaghetti with garlic bread. Over the weeks it snowballed and due to popular demand we ended up team teaching a booming Cooking Club. But sadly Mona was kicked out due to medical issues and I was rather determined not to continue without her; I never really cooked a lot before coming to Mongolia. However, because of incessant hounding from my Mongolian friends I reopened our little school in my apartment and it has been thriving ever since. It is only for women which lends a fun air of gossip and joking that can never be achieved with the menfolk around. Even though I constantly catch flack from the guys in the community, both local and PCV, I intend to keep it just for the ladies. Even better than the cooking part, I really love providing these women with a calm, quiet place they can drink tea and raise hell without husbands or children. (And raise hell they do, last week there was a fashion show and impromptu dance party!) It's also a great source of enjoyment for me and a constant challenge to find new, tasty things to make with so little is available. And it's a good way to make sure my house stays clean. So here are a few photo I've manage to snap of Cooking Club this year and last.
'Mama', Mona and I.
Cake is quite a delacy here. No one
knows how to make it but everyone loves it.
Amra batters onion rings like a champ.
Mac' n' Cheese with green beans. Horray!
Suvda approves of onion rings.
Making pizza dough. I'd never do this in America
but it's actually not hard at all.
Facinated by garlic bread.
Some lovely ladies in the kitchen.
Exploring the science of hamburger making.
In Mongolia, they're called 'gamburgers'.
Why? I have no idea.

Some of my favorite ladies: Suvda, Battsetseg
and a very blurry Roza.
Mama with her two loves:
foreigners and food.
Goofin' around in the kitchen.
Boiling gnocci. Quite an enigmatic food
for the Mongolians.
Tserenkhlam starting a poke war.

Bringing brunch to Mongolia.
This next part is just random photos of food in Mongolia and how we interact with it here. Because of the special situation in which we live, food takes on a different role in the lives of PCV's. So here's a little more хоол mоол.

Our training group made a traditional Mognolian
feast last summer. We did vegetarian buuz which were
ultimately pretty ugly but very tasty.
We made quite a spread of American food for
host family appreciation day. Here everyone is sated as
one of our language teachers toasts us with
warm wishes, vodka and a song.
Ladies at brunch! We felt very cosmopolitan chatting over
our croissants and cappuccinos in UB.

On our first trip to the big city Mona and I
splurged on nachos, a salad and fancy drinks
while waiting for our haircuts. The normal culinary fair
for others is a rare treat for us.
Miss Alana pokes at a precious find from the market.
This was the fruit in question in the
November 2, 2009 entry.
Mongolish! Once a week the foreigners and locals get
together at a restaurant to discuss bilingually and hang out.
Roza's birthday! This is a typical dinner party in 
Hovd. Nothing fancy but still a lot if fun!
Due to a serious shortage of counter space, much
of the cooking takes place on the floor. This
turkey was later to be part of our Thanksgiving feast.
Celebrating the end of Laura's big seminar in
Olgii with spinach dip (gotta love those
care packages!) and beer in the sun.
My students came to my apartment for a party
and to teach me how to make buuz. I still suck at it...
Bunnies gotta eat, too!

1 comment:

E in Atlanta said...

you are soooo right! food is so key to enjoyment of life! whether it's buutz in a ger, goat cheese ice cream lollipops in a tres chic restaurant, or pizza on the street. What a great way to connect.