Without the spice of life, life might simply seem a bit on the bland side.
We all seek it out, and we all know how important it is in relation to personal happiness. Each person may define his or her spice of life differently according to personal preferences. For people like me, the ability to taste has the overwhelming task of setting mood, spiking interest, and ultimately making or breaking a day.
Perhaps this explains why I classify half the fun of traveling to strange and unusual lands as the part spent indulging in the local food and beverage.
No question, I received my fill of memorable, thus spicy, experiences in the former Soviet Republic of Kyrgyzstan, where the simple comment of, “I’m thirsty,” brought me face to face (or cup-to-mouth) with a few drinks I will not soon forget.
Kick back a few of these local Kyrgyz favorites and spice up your day!
Of course they drink vodka in Kyrgyzstan. Since it is a former Soviet Republic, perhaps this section should go without saying. Then again, to what extent and which types they choose to drink should very well be noted.
You will not travel far before encountering that first shot, whether it be out in a restaurant, bar, or at someone’s home. Words to the wise: Even if you think you have a tolerance for hard alcohol, the locals probably have you beat. When ordering vodka out, locals tend to order themselves an entire carafe of vodka. If counted up, that tallies about 8 shots of vodka, for one person! One might also think that accepting a shot as a guest in someone’s home is not such a bad idea. Unfortunately, taking that first shot probably means you will then be refilled with another immediately upon consumption. Toast, shoot, and repeat.
A thin and sour yogurt-like beverage best defines kefir. Kyrgyz people boast of the health benefits from drinking kefir, and some recommend this, in combination to eating rice, as a way to overcome a bad stomach. A bit on the sour side, kefir is an acquired taste. For this reason, locals will often add sugar, fruits, or honey in an attempt to soften the taste.
This wheat based drink is a Kyrgyz favorite, and you can tell by the way the locals crowd around the barrels that are on the street corner for sale. To me, it was not a very pleasant taste (you can catch my reaction drinking shoro here). It had an old beer smell and was gritty, possibly slightly fermented. Still, there's no getting around the fact that it is a local fave in every way.
While vodka, kefir and shoro are sometimes hard to take, the unsuspecting tourist might find kumis on a whole different level. To explain the taste, one must first explain that kumiz is a drink made from fermented mare's milk. The incorporation of this drink into the nation's culture comes from the widespread preparation of it amongst the nomadic Kyrgyz people.
As you can expect, kumiz is a drink I would consider of an acquired taste. You've been warned.
Have you had any of these drinks? What do you think about them?
Written and contributed by BrookeVsTheWorld