ETHNIC CUISINE

Nomadic life has left an indelible mark on the culinary heritage of the Kyrgyz people. Ownership
of livestock was the primary indicator of material wealth among Kyrgyz nomads, and, accord-
ingly, meat was and still is the star of Kyrgyz cuisine. Beef, lamb and goat that grazed in mountain
jailoos, continue to dominate the table of Kyrgyz families and their frequent guests. Vegetables
and grains, for example, require cultivation of the land, and, therefore, were not a staple of the
traditional Kyrgyz diet.
The incomparable beshbarmak (five fingers) is often a standard item on menus. Prepared
through a unique process, the lamb is minced finely with a sharp knife then boiled with wheat
noodles and flavored with a spiced onion sauce, called chyk. When eating beshbarmak, it is ad-
visable to forget about cutlery and just use your fingers so that you can concentrate fully on the
flavors while you sip the drink of nomads, kymyz-sour mare’s milk. In all typical meals, there is
a wide selection of cold starters, generally sausages and meat delicacies.
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