I was out with my favourite Mongolian family this weekend. Saturday we were west of the City of Ulaanbaatar again, this time parked by a river. The trip over the bridge was amazing, as was the ferocity of the mosquitoes. I will go back and take photos of that bridge in the future. However, whilst this was a fun part to the weekend, it was not the best part. Sunday we went to Hotel Mongolia. I had promised to buy my favourite Mongolian family lunch as it was a birthday weekend for one of the family members. We did. Hotel Mongolia has become famous here for its importing tons of sand – about US $10,000 worth I believe, which in Mongolia is a lot of grains of sand. They have placed this sand near the river and hold beach parties there.
I should also note that the Hotel Mongolia does the best Chinese food I have eaten in Ulaanbaatar so far.
This, however, also was not the highlight of the weekend. The highlight was later when we went and parked by the river. Now I have been told that what follows is not an old Mongolian custom. When I asked, however, how my host had heard about it, she noted that it was some old Mongolians who had told her. OK, so not a custom. What was this though? Well, apparently swallowing 9 small river fish, alive, is good for the stomach.
Fish were caught, counted and set in a glass with some clean drinking water. They were then duly swallowed. When offered, Thomo backed away (some may say in a cowardly fashion) and fell back on my three rules of eating – namely:
- Should never have connected the mouth to the bum of any animal.
These failed on all three.
Still, my companion was fine at dinner later that night although apparently not terribly hungry. 🙂
Late Breaking Addition: The ever faithful aide confidante, Baggy, noted to me over lunch today that this tale was, in fact, correct. My favourite Mongolian family, however, had missed one important part of the recipe. Before drinking the fish, one should drink 1 to 2 litres of fresh water first, so that the fish would survive long enough in the stomach to provide the benefit. He also noted that you could feel them cleaning the stomach walls (this I am not so sure about but hey, coming from Baggy, the ever faithful aide confidante, who am I to doubt?).
So, I guess this was a case of one member of my favourite Mongolian family being an expert short term planner (catch the fish and swallow them) but not so good at long term planning (now that I have caught and swallowed them, how do I keep them alive long enough for them to provide some benefit?). 😀