Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kazakh Cultural Center and a taste of Kimiz (Fermented Mare's Milk)

Some friends of ours, a German-Turkish couple, had asked us a while ago if we wanted to get together, as we do from time to time, but the past few weekends were too busy for either or both of us. Finally, last weekend we were both free, and they said they had heard of a place to check out - a Kimiz Farm. I had heard of kimiz before. It's apparently a very traditional Turkish drink that is still a big part of Kazakh culture. (All pictures taken with our new Samsung NX1000. I just want to point out that Moonpie is not blurry. You may continue.)

Some flags of places where Turks live
For people who aren't aware (as I wasn't until I got interested in all things Turkish), there is a large group of Turkic peoples in the world who live in areas stretching from China to Turkey, and most places in between, including Russia, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, and some others that don't come to mind at the moment. Oh, Azerbaijan. They all speak fairly similar languages, share similar cultures, and quite of bit of ancestry. They were historically tribal nomadic people who migrated probably from somewhere around Mongolia out into a huge part of the world I just mentioned. Anyway, this is by no means a completely accurate or complete overview, I just wanted people to know why Turks would be interested in Kazakh culture.

Hello there!

Anyway, the "farm" (it's more like a cultural center) is about 1 hour from our house just outside of Kemalpasa. As soon as we got there we had to stop and show the kids the horses. They have horseback riding, but both of the little tykes were too little, and none of the adults wanted to risk crushing a pony, so we skipped that. Then we learned that they had a cultural talk in the replica traditional "otagi" basically like the traditional Mongolian ger.

Moonpie and friend

We went inside and were greeted by a Kazakh woman who immediately asked what part of Germany I was from. Um, actually, I'm not, oh nevermind. She kept stopping the talk to ask if I had understood her, which was pointless because I wasn't listening to most of it as I was trying to keep Moonpie and our friends' two-year-old from poking each other's eyes out or slamming each other's fingers in the conveniently low to the ground right at baby level windows in the "tent" (it was made out of concrete in the shape of a tent). Anyway, I did glean some information, like traditionally Turks didn't eat vegetables because they were nomads, so they got all of their nutrients from horse meat, sheep meat, yogurt and kimiz. Wow, I thought, kimiz must be awesome. My interest was building by the minute. I also learned that they burned dried dung for their fires (I did not know the Turkish word for dung until this day) and it was very important for each nuclear family to have their own tent. No sharing. I think that was a great idea on their part. Anyway, it was all pretty neat, and although I didn't understand the whole talk, I enjoyed looking at the items and decoration in the room.

Really nice motifs

On to lunch and the famous kimiz. They brought out the kimiz before the meal, and only my German friend had tasted it before. She didn't seem very enthusiastic, but I thought, wow, this must be great. If you drink this you don't have to eat vegetables.

You drink it out of little bowls instead of cups, so I poured some into my bowl. Mr. Stitches advised me to go easy. I took a sip. YOW! WOW! That stuff has pop. I could not keep a straight face for any of my sips of kimiz. That flavor really pops around your mouth, and not in a good way. My German friend's husband thought that maybe they were ripping us off and just selling us sour yogurt souped up with vinegar.

Awesome Kazakh (and Uzbek) food!
Kimiz was not a hit, but I did finish my bottle because we had paid the equivalent of 3 dollars for it. My theory was that it would go down easier with food, and I was right. The food, by contrast, was amazing. I enjoyed every single thing, and I would go back just for the food.

Moonpie found a pine cone

Here's their website which includes an informative video. Although it's in Turkish, you can see the gist of the place.

For those in Turkey and wanting to visit, it's called Kimiz Ciftligi and it's on the road between Kemalpasa and Torbali, closer to Kemalpasa. Their phone number is 0232 878 14 43.

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