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|Traditional Food Culture|
Village women preparing traditional Flat Bread and 'Chechil' Cheese
Ayten İlingi from Cakmak Village preparing 'Mantı' (traditional ravioli)
The rich regional food culture in the Kars Province is representative of the many ethnic groups that have inhabited the region over millennia, each adding new tastes and skills to local customs. The climate is harsh with long Siberian-like winters, and the region is known for animal husbandry. As animals graze on the rich local flora, the quality of meat and milk is considered excellent, and villagers make an array of delicious cheeses. Kars has a reputation for including large portions of meat in the daily diet. Nevertheless, most of the traditional dishes are based on local grains, pulses, wild greens and fruits. Dairy products add flavor, fat and protein.
“In the old days, they would wait until October-November so that the goose “ate snow”, before they ate it, the meat would taste better then. But nowadays, with global warming, the snow comes much later, therefore people would have to wait until December. Many families raise geese in villages near Kars. Each one owns around 20 to 40 geese. They hatch in April and are raised by the women or children until they are ready to be eaten. When the time comes, they are slaughtered, their feathers are plucked, and their insides cleaned. They are then washed and left to drain. Once all the water is drained they are rubbed with rock salt. They are salted really well inside the chest and under the wings, so that they do not putrefy and smell bad. The geese are then lined up in a tightly closed wooden trunk burried in snow. They stay in the truck for a week, then are hung on a high place from their feet, and let to dry for another week. Once dried, they are placed again in the trunk and kept in a safe place, usually outside of the house, for the whole winter. '' When my mother wanted to cook goose, she would clean the snow from the top of the trunk, then take a goose from inside” says Ayten. “She would then chop the goose, let it sit in water for 15 minutes to get rid of the salt, then wash it twice. The chunks were then placed in a pot, just about covered with water, then cooked. Rice, Bulghur but especially Emmer pilaf was made with the remaining broth. This pilaf was cooked in copper pots in the old days. Once the pilaf is cooked, it was placed on the plate and then the goose meat was placed next to it and eaten this way.”