Airag is fermented horse’s milk. It is a favoured drink amongst Mongolians during the summer months. Whenever we drive out of town now we check the quality of the Airag at the local herder’s ger.
Mind you, there is some custom involved in the drinking of Airag. The most interesting thing relates to the first drink of Airag of the season. Now, it should be noted that Airag is served in a large tumbler type glass or big bowl and it is usual to finish the whole glass in one go. So, you down a glass of Airag and wait. If after a period of time you feel like urinating (Number One’s) then you are OK. If, however, it is Number Two’s that strike and in a, shall we say, fairly wet manner, then you are not ready for drinking Airag this season.
I did Number One’s.
Now, “how does it taste?” I hear you ask. Well, let me put it this way. You know how horses have a particularly, well, horsey smell, and how everything related to horses ends up smelling the same way? Airag is no different. It tastes of horse smell. Having said that, it is a fairly smooth drop (it is only fermented milk after all) and flows down really rather easily. After downing a glass of Airag you are left with a creamy taste in the mouth.
It is fun watching the family empty every container in the car so that they can collect some more Airag.
If you are travelling Mongolia, make sure you try the Airag … but do remember to stop after the first drink to see whether you will be struck with Number One’s or Number Two’s 🙂