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Mongolia Food

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Mongolian herdsmen take sheep as the guarantee of life and the source of wealth. They have three meals a day and each meal cannot do without milk and meat.

Food made of milk is called Zhaganyide in the Mongolian language, which means pure and clean food, or white food.

The meat for Mongolians mainly comes from ox and sheep, as well as goats and sometimes horses. In the hunting season, they also hunt Mongolian gazelle. There are more than 70 traditional ways to cook mutton, among which the most peculiar ones are Mongolian roasted whole sheep (without skin), stove-roasted whole sheep with skin (or Alashan roasted whole sheep), and the most common one is Shoupa mutton (mutton eaten with hands instead of chopsticks).

Food made of meat is called Wulanyide in the Mongolian language, with a meaning of red food, which includes: boiled whole sheep, Shouba mutton, kabob, and boiled thin mutton slices. These are all good dishes with features of a nomadic people.

Boiled whole sheep, or called Xiusi or Wucha in the Mongolian language, is the traditional dish of Erdos Mongolians for treating honorable guests. The Wucha feast has solemn rites. First, the guests get seated in turn, beginning from honorable guests and the senior, according to the customs of Erdos Mongolians. Then the host brings a boiled whole sheep in a square wooden plate, and places it on the middle of the square red-lacquer table. The sheep is lying on the wooden plate, four limbs crossed, and the head on the meat, facing to the guests. Then the host holds up a silver bowl to present fresh milk to the guests, which means to welcome the guests with the purest and best food on the prairie and the solemnest ritual of Mongolians.

The guests take the milk in turn, dip the ring finger of the right hand into the milk, flip off a little milk solemnly, once to the sky, once to the ground, and taste a little milk themselves, in order to show their respect to the sky, the ground, gods and the host. Then the host sings a traditional congratulatory speech in a loud and clear voice. After that, the guest of honor turns the wooden plate making the sheep head facing to the host.

The host takes out an elaborate Mongolian knife, cuts a little off around the whole sheep, puts them into a small cup and throws them to the sky, indicating to offer holy food first to the sky and the earth. Then he cuts the mutton adroitly into about 50 pieces of moderate size, places them in position, puts the sheep head back on the top, turns the wooden plate, hands the knife handle to a guest, stands up solemnly, holds up both hands with palms up, saying Enjoy your meal. He then backs off out of the door. The guest of honor takes down the sheep head, cuts three shreds of meat off the sacrum on each side of the sheep, exchanges the meat to the opposite side, and invites all to have dinner. The grand whole sheep feast treatment and the strong atmosphere put the guests in a unique living custom of Mongolians.

In daily diet, the unique food -- fried rice -- takes the same important position as the red food and white food.

Mongolians cannot live a single day without tea. Apart from black tea, almost all of them have the habit of drinking milk tea. Mongolians also like to use seeds, leaves and flowers of many wild plants to boil milk tea, which is believed to be capable of preventing and curing diseases.

The majority of Mongolians drink wines, mostly distilled spirit and beer, and milk wine and mare milk wine in some places.

Edit by: Vincent
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