Monday, August 29, 2011

Epic Trip: And now for something completely different

Upon crossing the border from China into Kazakhstan, the food immediately changes. Food vendors on station platforms are now selling smoked salmon instead of instant noodles. Potato dumplings instead of fruit. Blinis instead of more instant noodles. And while the food in China was excellent, I was happy for a change. In the first ten hours or so that our train was in Kazakhstan, I had blinis and pierogi and borsht and beer and it was all wonderful.

It's a good thing, however, that we were only in Kazakhstan for a few days, because with this change in diet comes an immediate change in phenotype. The people are gigantic, both horizontally and vertically, and if I'd stayed much longer I would've fit in a bit too well.

A few of the delicacies we tried:

This was listed on the menu as "round biscuit with egg and cheese." What it actually was? A 10-kilo butter bomb. But fabulous.

Potatoes and wild mushrooms cooked in butter, served with pickled cabbage:

Various salads with herbs - primarily dill and coriander -

Oh, and mayonnaise. Lots and lots of mayonnaise.

The photo above is smoked horse meat salad. One of the best things I ate there.

Beer and cream horn. Traditional Kazakh breakfast -

Raw horse steaks and veggies -

Which we grilled on a hot stone at our table -

A perfect potato -

This guy had a stand selling various types of pickles at the green market. I tried every one -

In fact, here is my bag of pickles with the rest of my breakfast - a meat pastry and tea brewed with milk instead of water -

Various pickled veggies at the market. I found that if you stare long enough they give you samples -

Snacks... If you're like my mom and you buy bags of croutons to snack on, you'll love these. Taste just like croutons without the stigma of snacking on a salad accessory -

Mushroom and sour cream potato chips -

Caviar potato chips -

Cookies sold in bulk -

And after telling a guy I wanted a kilo of biscuits, I now know how much a kilo is. It's a hell of a lot. We ate biscuits for days.

Kelly and I ordered the same beer, but mine was served as it should be to a lady - in a curvy glass with a straw -

Bonus pic! The snack you get on China Southern Airlines from Almaty to Urumqi? A cucumber wrapped in plastic.


  1. Cuke in plastic...laugh for days....

  2. The round biscuit with egg and cheese looks a lot like (and probably is) a Georgian dish called "khachapuri." It is pretty popular in many parts of the former Soviet Union, including Russia and, of course, Georgia. Looks like a great trip. I am envious.

  3. I found your blog link on Cecilie's blog and I'm hooked! What a tragic cucumber - imagine having the job of wrapping them all. And handing them out with a straight face.

  4. Glad you like it! The cucumber was indeed tragic. Thankfully, the tragedy was alleviated by the fact that we were seated near the galley, where the flight attendants had left the drink cart unattended. Five Pearl River beers later, and that cucumber was looking pretty darn good.

  5. Yeah, I think I would have given in to it after one. Out of pity. I'll definitely try to get seats near the galley in the future - thanks for the hot tip!