And while I was there, I lost 10 pounds.
Not because I got sick, but because Mongolians are the original Atkins dieters (think lots and LOTS of meat) and because the food’s a little bland. (The Mongols are really fond of boiled meat). Not that there’s anything wrong with boiled meat. But I’m the kind of guy who goes through a lot of pepper flakes. My family and I debate the merits of different hot sauces. But not the Mongols. They just like meat. Lots of meat.
But in addition to meat, they eat lots of dairy products. You see, their ancestors were nomads, and spent most of their time roaming from place to place in search of good grazing grounds for their animals.
So there wasn’t a lot of time for planting crops, much less harvesting them. And they just never developed a taste for vegetables. Or fruit. Or grains.
Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar (pronounced “OOH-lahn-BAH-tar”), has become a trendy vacation spot, and it’s possible to find everything from salad bars to vegetarian restaurants there.
But you have to trust me that these are NOT for domestic consumption. Mongols don’t quite see the point of salad bars, and as for vegetarian cooking, their thought is that vegetables are OK for eating, but hardly worth the bother.
And despite how trendy Ulaanbaatar has become, most Americans have never been there. And when I mention Mongolian food, most people think immediately of a dish called “Mongolian beef.” And while I like Mongolian beef well enough, the title’s not accurate. Beef, maybe. But Mongolian, definitely not.
Or they might think of an experience called “Mongolian grill.” Which has become so popular that there’s a restaurant chain that goes by the name. When you go to a “Mongolian grill,” you take a plate and pile on raw meats and vegetables, and the cook (usually called a “grillmaster”) cooks it together, and adds some sauces.
And Mongolian grill cooking is good enough, but Mongolian it ain’t. (I’d even argue that it’s not a grill, but a skillet, but I’m a little fussy).
In what we call a “Mongolian grill” dish, our Mongol friends would like the meat. But they would sort of view the vegetables as messing up a plate of perfectly good meat. Not to mention that most folks eat that meat and vegetable and sauce mixture over a bed of rice. And while the Mongols eat bread sometimes, rice isn’t something native to their diet.
But done well, Mongolian food can be outstanding. And that’s what this book is about: making authentic, good, and easy Mongolian dishes. Food like Genghis Khan would have eaten, only better. And while you’re not likely to take off on a Mongolian horse tomorrow morning, you can enjoy the taste of the Mongol deserts. Right in your own home. Right in your own kitchen.
And here’s the benefit of being able to make real, authentic Mongolian food that’s good and easy, right in your own home: it’s because you probably can’t find it anywhere else. Because while Mongolia ruled the world 800 years ago, most people aren’t able to get to the country now. And there are very, very few real Mongolian restaurants. Maybe 3 or 4 in the entire United States, for example. So until there’s a Mongolian restaurant in your town -- one that would have made Genghis Khan happy -- you can make the real thing right in your own kitchen. And here they are: 22 real Mongolian dishes. This is a cuisine people have been eating for over a thousand years. Now you can see what you’ve been missing.
This book is 46 pages, and has 8,558 words.