I have always thoroughly disliked red meat. I’ll eat it to be polite, or if it’s the only food available. Occasionally the rare hamburger will enter my mouth, but only with a ton of cheese, lettuce, relish and ketchup piled sky high. Excluding these circumstances, red meat has always been a no no in my diet; what can I say- my tastes buds just don’t approve.
Therefore, I was a bit taken aback when yesterday evening my body begin screaming “I need meat, any meat… NOW!” I had a full on craving. Weird-right? Let me explain; to be polite in Mongolia, you eat Mongolian food. If a Mongolian dish doesn’t consist of meat, it’s not considered a meal. Therefore, since my arrival in the land of nomadic herders, the consumption of much sheep, goat, cow, horse and pig has occurred.
I like to think of this hunger for pork, beef, mutton and horse meat (camel meat is only eaten in the desert) as a proven sign that I am successfully integrating into Mongolian culture. There are other signs I’ve integrated- becoming friends with the biggest delguur owner, having children greet me with my name instead of Ali (the last female PCV’s name) and without conscious effort, slurping up all beverages and food. But the biggest success by far is my body’s response to red meat. Apparently, I love it now… will the surprises ever cease?