I served as a Peace Corps volunteer for a few years in Mongolia. I was working as a teacher trainer in the city of Darkhan, an hour or so south of Russia, for the last 18 months or so of my service. I worked with a number of different schools doing technology training workshops, methodology trainings, co-teaching and classroom observations. The school I worked more closely with was school 15. At the end of the year a handful of the teachers I was closest with rented a microbus, packed it full of vodka, milk-tea, 12 or so teachers and a sheep and off we went into open Mongolian steppe for a farewell picnic.
Mongolians love picnics. Mongolians love wrestling. Mongolians love vodka. Mongolians love meat. I took this photos after a few rounds of wrestling, a few bottles of vodka, and mid-way through the slaughtered sheep. On special occasions Mongolians slaughter a goat/sheep/marmot (more on the technique later), throw slabs into a 5-gallon pressure cooker along with potatoes, carrots and the most important ingredient: boiling hot stones. The hot stones cook the feast (this dish is called ‘khurkhug’) and after the meat is cooked, everyone is tossed a burning hot rock to juggle in their hands a la hot potato. After that, it’s time to dig in.
I took this photo as Khangai bagsh, a former air force pilot for the former Soviet Union turned Russian teacher, is passing me a fatty slab of mutton. ‘Bi mongoliin Khurkhugin makhnd mash ikh sanaj bainshdee!’ I sure do miss Mongolian stewed mutton!