Friday, January 19, 2007

On Kazakh Food...

As we mentioned before the food here is interesting. Nothing bad so far... just interesting. The fun part is that we still haven't ventured off to try any of the local Kazakh cuisine. We just aren't as brave and daring as some of you. Even at home... we go to Chinese and Mexican restaurants and always order the same old things never venturing off the beaten path to try something new and adventurous.

Believe it or not... this is milk and it is not found in the cooler but on the shelf. I've seen 1%, 2.5%, 4% and 6.2%. We're sticking with the 1 and 2% as I don't have a lot of interest in cutting my milk with a knife. I really like to drink a lot of milk at home but the milk here isn't quite the same. I don't know how to describe it other than it has an "earthy" taste to it. I don't care to drink it straight from the carton but I've stepped out on a limb and put it on cereal once or twice and it's not so bad after the first couple of bites. Tom has been using it on cereal for a while now... but he's not as picky about tastes as I am. An interesting side note... there are clear 1 liter and 2 liter bottles of milk in the coolers at the markets. I was very tempted to buy these because it looked like normal, cold milk to me but Aliya strongly recommended against it. She said it was disgusting stuff... milk that has been carbonated. (Possibly fermented?) That was enough to make me head the other direction.

Purchasing produce in the grocery store here is a little different from how we do it at home. Most of the fresh fruits and vegetables are in a cooler with shelves similar to what we would find our cream cheese and yogurts on. You will typically find apples, pears, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and bananas here. These carrots were pre-packaged and you could just pick them off the shelves but anything that is sold individually you hand to a person standing in that section and they bag it and weigh it for you. There were 4 large carrots in this bundle for a whopping 32 tenge (pronounced ten-gay)... which is equivalent to about 30 cents.

Eggs don't come by the dozen here.. they come in 10's or can be purchased individually. Each egg is individually stamped for approval. These are still in my fridge... I'm hoping to make scrambled eggs or at least hard boiled eggs one of these days!

Ah, pure yumminess here. Several of you know of my affinity for macaroni and cheese. I considered bringing a box or 2 with me in case I had trouble finding things I liked to eat here. Never fear! Mac and Cheese is here! And -- not only that... it's made in New Jersey! We've already had 2 boxes of the stuff and I have strong feeling there is more to come! Woohoo! We also picked up some Nesquik cereal which is basically Coco Puffs... I don't know if we have this back home or not... but it does a good job covering up the milk flavor and is tasty to eat as a dry snack in the middle of the night when I'm up. I've also picked up a bulk bag of generic frosted flakes and they were so good that I ate the whole bag (2 servings) in one sitting. Aliya is right... we, Americans, get so wrapped up in packaging.. she picked up some not-so-impressively packaged chocolate cookies and I bought the cereal and both have been pretty tasty and a lot cheaper! The third item in the picture below is something like a Little Debbie Swiss Roll but it also has a swirl of strawberry in it... We bought these our first day in town and they sure helped tie us over until we could get ahold of some real food... Mmmm, these are really good!

Aliya assures me this is ham. I asked her if she could help me buy some ham at the grocery and we walked back to the meat counter. She asked if I wanted beef, pork or chicken ham... hmmmmm. I should have taken that as a clue. Maybe she thought I said "Spam"? Actually, I have only seen what looked to be our typical ham in one market. The rest looks like this. I did tell her pork and it seems to be almost some sort of salami. It doesn't really surprise me I guess... everything here resembles a sausage of some sort... their hot dogs are actually sausage too. Anyway, this smells like ham, but I haven't been brave enough to try it yet.

I'll try to cover some of our restaurant meals in a later post. I've snapped a few pictures of the cuisine and you might be interested in what we've been eating when we go out... things like steaks, lasagna and such just don't look the same over here.


Amy Kramp said...

I feel much better about your food situation knowing you have a source of mac & cheese :)

the ham looks tolerable, you need to brave up and eat it

Once again, I love you guys!

Meghan said...

That techie's (VK) wife here! Just wanted to say the milk thing is how everyone else BUT us seems to do it. In Spain, I was also subjected to milk from the shelf (until it was refrigerated after opening), definitely stick to 1% especially if you just are drinking it!! Also, the different taste is that our cows' milk with American feed, fertilizer, and pasteurization will taste different than other countries. Needless to say I came home and immediately had bread with peanut butter (thickly spread!) and a tall glass of "real" milk. Stick to wine, juice, tea (:-) ) or water (if that's okay to drink!). Safe stay and travels home, we'll be getting really busy soon too!

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