Bizarre Foods of The Nomads: Mongolia

Why do they eat such bizarre foods in Mongolia?

If ever there was a contest to decide which country has the weirdest food, Mongolia would win every time.  The bizarre foods of this mysterious country put to shame all other contenders. Mostly based around meat, the strange foods of these nomadic people both fascinates and terrifies in equal measure.

Meat in the winter, meat and dairy in the summer, the mongolian diet is something of an enigma in today’s world. The harsh climate and nomadic lifestyle means that many rural mongolians still live on a diet consisting mainly of animal proteins and fat. In a world where plant based diets are the “in thing”, in Mongolia meat rules supreme. Not just any meat either. Mongolia has one of the lowest population densities on the planet and those who still live the nomadic lifestyle move their animals regularly. Mongolia probably has the most organic, free range meat on the planet. 

Mongolians have lived this way for thousands of years and I am sure they will carry on this way for many more. So now let’s take a look at the weird and bizarre foods of Mongolia.

Airag

We will start with a staple of the Mongolian diet, Airag. It is fermented horse milk which is drank in many countries across the great plains of Asia. Containing more sugars than goats and cows milk. Airag, once fermented and churned turns into a light alcoholic drink. It has a unique, slightly sour flavour and also has a bite from the alcohol. 

bizarre foods-mongolia-Airag

Head Cheese 

After starting with a nice, easy to stomach little oddity, it is now time that you are chucked into the deep end. Meet Head Cheese, one of Mongolia’s most disgusting and bizarre foods.

Although it has been given the name Head Cheese by travelers, this horrid looking dish is not a cheese. In Mongolia it is known as Stujin. It is basically boiled and jellied sheep’s head with other things thrown in for good measure. Stujin is one of the national foods of Mongolia, enjoyed by most of the population, hmmm yummy.

Mongolian bizarre weird foods

Five Fingers

No, Mongolians do not eat fingers. Five Fingers is a meal that is eaten with your hands. This is a meal that is eaten through the country on special occasions. Also this is the meal that many tourists are given when they visit the Gers (nomadic tents) on a tour. Made up of all parts of the animal, boiled together in one pot. Legs, rigs and head, not forgetting the stomach and organs. The dish is served on a giant plattor and devoured as a huge feast of meat.

There is a portion of the meal which is served to the guest of honour, the eyeball of a Goat or Lamb. If you do ever make it to Mongolia, let your friend be the guest of honour. 

bizarre foods-mongolia

Stomach Butter

Stomach butter is as bad as the name suggests. Butter left to rot inside of a Yak’s stomach. This is one of the bizarre foods that is only for the brave. The disgusting smell alone is enough to put most travelers of eating this with a meal.

The nomadic Mongolians eat this as it is a good way to preserve the food. Out on the barren steeps where food is hard to come by, any type of nourishment will be eaten. This is goes a long way to explaining the diet of Mongolia. 

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Sheep eyeball, carrot juice

Do you have a terrible hangover? If you do, Mongolia has the perfect solution to your problem, just drink some carrot juice with sheep’s eyeballs. It will have you up and about in no time at all. 

This is a normal drink in outer Mongolia. Men recovering from a heavy night’s drinking, will often gulp down a glass of tomato juice and pickled eyeballs to aid their recovery.

mongoliaBoodog 

This is a food which is eaten in the more rural areas of Mongolia and not to be found in the cities. Boodog is Marmot, cooked from inside with hot stones. Marmots are a local delicacy in to Mongolians. They are caught and have their organs removed, all except the kidneys and liver. It is then stuffed with potatoes, onion and red hot stones to be cooked from the inside. Once sealed, the outside is then cooked with a blowtorch, burning off all of the hair.

The Boodog is then eaten from the carcass. Mongolia is definitely not a country to travel if you are vegetarian or vegan. In outer Mongolia you will especially find it hard to eat a good meal. 

Aaruul

Aaruul is popular throughout the entire country and you will often find it on menus in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city. Made from sour milk and left out to dry until hard, this dried cheese biscuit is eaten as a dessert. However do be warned. Mongolian taste buds are a lot stronger than yours. This is a dessert that you will only try once.

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Whole Sheeps Head

Considered a delicacy for most nomadic peoples, in Mongolia it is no different. The head is boiled for hours to make the meat soft and tender and served with a small variety of vegetables. This is one of the more spooky foods of the world and the traditions which come with it are just as terrifying.

There are many traditions to uphold when visiting this crazy country. When eating whole sheep’s head, the tradition is that guest eats the eyeballs, and not just one. Both eyeballs have to be eaten. Mongolians seem to have a thing for eyeballs. 

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These are just a few of the bizarre foods that this beautiful country has to offer. If you do ever make it out to Mongolia we hope that you have a very strong stomach indeed. All in all, if you love adventure, Mongolia is the country for you. Mongolians live a completely different lives to most peoples of our age, they are truly one of the most fascinating cultures on the planet.

Do you love to travel?

Thank you for reading our latest addition to our weird and wonderful food category. If you are looking for your daily dose of wanderlust, have a read of: Backpacking Sri Lanka. The costs. Ultimate Guide

If you enjoy reading about the different foods of our world, also take a look at: Australia Doesn’t Do BBQs, Argentina Does BBQs! 

However if it is the inspiration to travel that you need: Could Wanderlust Kill Racism? (2 min read)  

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