Thursday, September 5, 2013

Boiled Sheep’s Head and Boorsook

June 13, 2013

It’s unfortunate that I felt ill yesterday evening instead of today. It would have been nice to have an excuse to stay in bed all day, but I awoke feeling fine. The weather, however, was anything but, as it continued to deposit tons of frigid rain on the village. The ability to stay in bed all day wouldn’t have been the only perk of being ill today. In mid-afternoon, I had the following conversation with Rakhat:

“Do you remember the sheep we killed the other day?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Right now we’re boiling its head. We’ll eat it for dinner tonight.”

Why was it yesterday that I was ill and unable to eat?

In addition to spending the afternoon boiling a sheep’s head, the family spent a good chunk of time making an insane amount of boorsook. The entire family worked together in an efficient assembly-line fashion: 

Rakhat rolled and sliced the dough, Nursultan and Nuraika shuttled the sliced dough into the next room, and Altynbek fried it. The thin pieces of dough take only about 10-15 seconds to cook.

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At one point, while rolling the dough, Rakhat said, “Annie, go pose there and act like you’re rolling the dough. You can tell your friends you made boorsook!” My response was that no one who knows me would believe that, to which she agreed that I was probably right.

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Look guys, I'm making boorsook! Haha, nothing is ever staged.

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The finished product

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Nurel snacks on fresh boorsook

In the evening, when it was time for dinner, the plate came out with the whole boiled head as well as the boiled feet and spine and various other boiled bones. I was given a chunk of spine, which did have some tasty meat attached to it. Altynbek – as the oldest and the head of the household – got the job of dismantling the head, as well as his pick of its meat, although he did offer various pieces around. I ate some tongue, which wasn’t bad, although I found eating taste-buds to be horribly disconcerting. Nuraika got the soft-palate, as apparently daughters are supposed to eat the soft palate (although I was not clear on the reason for this). I was offered (but declined) and ear and half an eye. Apparently a boiled eye is quite similar in nature to a hard-boiled egg. Imagine scooping out the “yolk” (the iris and pupil) and eating just the “whites” and that’s essentially how you eat a boiled sheep’s eye. The feet weren’t touched; they went back into the pot at the end of the meal, and I suspect we’ll be seeing them again.

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