November 12, 2009 Leave a comment
By Rob Packer
Kiva Fellow Initiation Test: Offal
A couple of weeks ago at work, we had some delicious salad to go with our samsy, a delicious Kyrgyz meat-filled pastry that bears quite the resemblance to the Cornish pasty. The salads were a slightly pickled shredded carrot with mushrooms or tofu. While I was passing through the supermarket after my Russian class this evening, I saw the salad section and suddenly remembered how delicious they were. I pointed at my salad of choice, mumbled some Russian (it’d been a hard class) and went on my way.
I arrived at home toying with the idea of making some pasta, but a gurgling sound and no water from the tap quickly made up my mind. The first place I went to check after that was the gas stove to see if the water was coming out of there. Instead I decided to have some lepyoshka (flat Kyrgyz bread, delicious when still warm), cheese and my salad. I’d had an enormous plate of rice for lunch, so a German-style Abendbrot seemed like good idea. I was not happy when I opened my salad, and saw that instead of tofu skin, I had a carrot and tripe salad.
I feel like a bit of a hypocrite complaining about a spot of tripe, especially after a semi-boast yesterday about my love of thousand-year eggs and durian. In my defence, I like offal slightly more than the next guy, which I why I happily chugged down the lamb bits on the top of the plov, Central Asian pilaf, at the weekend. But tripe is something I’ve never been able to get into: whenever I’ve had it before it has to have a pretty strong sauce and be hot to make me like it. The slightly spicy vinegar dressing didn’t hide the fact that I was eating a carrot and tripe salad. Nor was it hot.
When I was taking a night-time stroll to my supermarket to top up my internet credit, I decided to stop by the salad section. Sure enough, next to where my tripe salad had been, were more cartons: one was carrot and mushroom, the other was carrot and tofu. Suddenly it became clear my the woman was slightly hesitant to give me the carton I was pointing out when I picked it up.
I feel that it’s almost understood that an offal experience will be part of every Kiva Fellow’s time in the field, and I’ve been patiently waiting for mine. I just never expected it to be self-inflicted.