Last evening my husband and I attended a send-off dinner for a couple and their four children from our small community to Asia for language studies. It was an interesting evening. The couple brought samples of the local food for all who attended the dinner.
Some of the samples that we could try included Yak Butter Tea, Yak Meat and a mixture of roasted barley flour and Yak Butter tea into a dough. We ate the dough just as mixed at the table. No baking required. It reminded me if the texture of the dough my grandma used to make for homemade noodles. I wondered as I ate it what it would taste like boiled.
The yak meat we sampled came in small foil packets. There were three to choose from: red was numbing hot yak meat, green was 5 seasoned yak meat, and the third was orange seasoned with soy sauce. I tried the green packet and as I opened it the smell reminded me of opening a can of tuna fish packed in oil. The meat tasted like meat, nothing offensive about it. In fact I thought it tasted like beef but it must have been packed in oil like tuna fish to create the smell when I opened the package.
There were other samples of local food that we tasted. They were round thin disks, red in color. These tasted very similar to Fruit Roll-ups just not as intense in flavor. There were samples of small wafer like crackers as well. They really didn’t have much flavor, just a crunchy texture when you ate them.
The tea was interesting. I’m not a tea drinker, I prefer coffee always just black. The tea was the color of coffee with a lot of cream in it. When I drank the tea it definitely had an aftertaste of butter in it. It didn’t look oily or leave an oily film in the cup as I might suspect but you could definitely taste the butter. It tasted fine but I still like my coffee better.
The rest of the meal was the Americanized version of Mandarin Orange Salad with Roasted Almonds, Sweet and Sour Chicken, Beef Stir-Fry, Fried and White Rice, Egg Rolls, and Orange Sherbet. I never got around to asking whether Orange Sherbet is really something they eat for dessert in Asia or did our cook just decide it was something that complimented our meal.
The first five minutes of our meal everyone had to eat with the chopsticks provided before we could use our forks, knives or spoons. It was interesting to look around at our table of ten to see the various methods employed to attempt eating with the chopsticks. Some brought their plates next to their mouths and shoveled and not trying to lift the food to the mouth with the chopsticks. I won’t tell you which gender was using this method.
It was an interesting way to spend a Sunday evening. We visited with many people we haven’t seen in a long time who came back to town for the dinner including our old next door neighbors. It was so fun to reconnect after so many years.