Sunday, August 2, 2015

Eating Out/Eating In

The immediate family
This past Wednesday evening marked a dinner gathering of the extended family--over 35 people in attendance. This was a special event, as Frank, Indra, and their kids (Tanan and Molor) only come home to Mongolia every year or two, or so. We gathered at the new 5 Star Shangri La Hotel. The food at Cafe Park was buffet style (reminded me of Cheyenne Mtn Resort in presentation and set up) and very tasty. I had my first REAL salad since arriving a month ago, and some very juicy and tender beef medallions (like filet mignon).  

We filled two LONG tables and people moved around to talk and catch up with one another. While many of the cousins speak some English, this was their first encounter with me and it was therefore comprised of introductions and watching of and smiling at me. Zorig tells me that over time, they will converse with me more, and begin to ask questions. 

That said, it was nice to see so many smiling faces. It reminded me a bit of what a family reunion in America is like. The small children running around and playing, the older kids congregating and talking, and the adults moving around the room to catch up on one another's lives. I sat and talked with Zorig, and enjoyed observing my new extended family. I couldn't understand their words. I am different looking from everyone else (except Frank--he's the other white guy). But the feeling of inclusion and belonging was yet there. Lots of smiles and warmth.

There are plenty of places to eat out in UB. From traditional Mongolian offerings to the Japanese owned Cafe & Bakery down the street (where one can get lunch for about $4) to American style eateries like Rosewood Kitchen & Enoteca. Every city block is littered with supermarkets, boutiques, and restaurants. Oh, and Karaoke bars too! 

At home, preparing food is a bit different. I'm yet adjusting to my new kitchen where things are smaller than they are in the US. From the stove (it has 4 burners--but they are closer together and the oven is more narrow), to the sink, to the refrigerator (though it's about half freezer/half fridge--only slightly more fridge space than freezer). And just as there are no clothes dryers here, dishwashers are also not customary. We humans are the dishwashers. 

There is plenty of food across the street in the grocery department of Nomin at the State Department Store. However, if one has the time, it's better to hoof it a ways to Mercury or Saruul Market as the offerings are a bit more appealing to the Western eye. I went there yesterday to get ground beef and a few other things from the mini-Ikea store. 

Yes, shopping here is a bit like a treasure hunt for us expats. We are always searching for familiar things. Sometimes we find them (I found Jiffy Creamy PB and Kraft Parmesan cheese), sometimes we don't (I can't find Shout or any similar spray for stain removal--we have Vanish, which works, but I choose to hunt for the convenience of a spray bottle). As my new friend Christy says, when you see something, you should get it! One never knows how long before the next container shipment with that item may arrive. Perhaps never. I'm still weighing my options. Can't bring myself to pay $10 for a small quart size bag of nearly expired almonds, but I did spend a little extra for this salted, sweet cream butter. While this country is LOADED with dairy products, I have not been able to find butter that resembles what I was used to buying at Walmart/Safeway/King Soopers. But this.....this butter from New Zealand is good. And I simply toast the bread and savor the butter taste. No need for jelly, honey, or jam. 

Happy Hunting!

1 comment:

  1. Heather, I am just now getting caught up on all your adventures, and I saw this post. This is the same butter we enjoy when we go to St Maarten in the summers. How funny that it makes its way to the Caribbean and to Mongolia!