Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Boiled cow feet, sir?

I am a terrible, terrible wife.

We all have our dirty little pleasures. Some people have sex with goats.
I watch Eastenders. And I love my occasional copy of the Russian Cosmo my mother brings when she comes over.

And every time, I swear: every single time it has some article that would slot right into my life in its current stage. Spooooky.

This time, I read a piece about becoming lazy in relationship, and how this woman’s husband did not even notice she was sporting a fake moustache one night.
So, the article claimed you know you got too lazy if you don’t remember what town your husband has just been away for work to.

F***!- I thought- Was it Leeds? Was it Nottingham?

(Have actually checked with him, and it was Chel-ms-ford. I mean, how would anyone expect me to remember that word? I am foreign, after all. All English towns sound pretty much the same to me.)

And, as if that was not bad enough, I was also convinced he was not back till tomorrow night. If I had known he was coming back today, I would have prepared, you know- cancelled all the lovers coming over; but more importantly, I would have planned a different dinner, and warned my mother to hide some stuff.

Husband loves Azeri dishes. Most of them. Not the fried burgers (kotletas) we planned for tonight. Neither does he appreciate some very peculiar things my mother arranges around the kitchen. For instance, she might decide to prepare her own pickled red cabbage. It smells as if someone with a digestive disorder died in our house about a month ago. Our freezer is packed with imported wine leaves and occasionally, we find trays with drying mint all over the kitchen.

What’s that?- husband pointed to a complicated arrangement of pots and towels in the corner of the kitchen worktop. I explained that my mother was busy turning the full fat milk into a natural yogurt, or motsoni.

According to her, the yogurt they sell in the UK is not good enough, as it is packed with chemicals. And my mother is determined to feed me the most natural yogurt possible. She believes my blotchy body needs cleansing and detoxifying. I am being very patient about the whole thing, because I know it could be a lot worse. She could be insisting on colonic irrigation.

We also are not very traditional Azeries. Husband has to be grateful for that. We could be cooking Khash in our English kitchen. Khash is a national dish that Azeries (mainly men) traditionally consume early in the mornings, with some vodka. You need vodka to be able to enjoy boiled cows feet. The below the knee parts (including hooves) get placed in a large pan of cold water and left simmering over night. Russians enjoy theirs in a form of a chilled jelly (Holodets).

But hold on, before you think Azeries are weird, what about some other national dishes? Don’t they bury fish in Iceland before they eat it?
Kazakhs eat horses, Koreans- dogs, and my mother in law…. Well, my mother in law likes to make soup.

To be precise, a second-hand soup. Only very poor people would do something like that back home. When there is a war.
Because, to an Azeri, using a carcass of an already once cooked chicken would be like announcing to the world we could not afford a fresh meal.

Brits, however, happily use the left-over bones from their roast chicken dinner to make a soup. My mother in law takes it a step further, and adds anything else that I was not quick enough to bin. I had been pretty good about it until one day, she chucked in the left-over chips from fish & chips dinner the night before.

As I said, I am a terrible, terrible wife. And a daughter in law.


  1. You are good:) bloody good, Scary Azeri!! I can imagine how you would have written in Russian:) That terrible Hash boils and stinks the whole night, and as it is mostly consumed in winter time, you have to freeze the whole house (flat)through opening the windows to get rid of the odor.

  2. Khash... :-(

    One reason among many that I'm a vegetarian. :-)

  3. "Khash" looks like the correct way to spell it. Must make changes. :)

    No, sorry Onnik. There is the golden middle between buried fish and life as a veggie! :))

  4. hahah! love it! I would like to try your mom's yogurt, I'm with her on the chemicals even though I don't think I've ever had unprocessed yogurt.

  5. ‘Khash’ sounds like something my Dad would have loved
    He was a fan of the Irish equivalent Crubeens (crúibíní in Irish) salted pigs feet or trotters boiled and eaten with cabbage....................yum!!!!

  6. And we Peruvians love cebiche, a dish made with raw fish that gets its cooking from our too acid lemon.
    Simply delicious!

  7. Oh, no Gabriela, I loved ceviche I had in Belize, and it sounds very similar. Raw fish is fantastic!

  8. Sofisticos...a bizarre question, if you come back to read it: are you a man or a woman? I am just curious. :)))

  9. Ha-ha :-) My British Mother-in-Law also makes soup with the left-over rotissory chicken, I didn't know it was a traditional English way to make a chicken soup. It's very simple soup though, nothing but chunks of chicken and its broth thank goodness, at least no potato chips. Have you ever watched "Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern"? This unhealthy looking fella (from all the weird stuff he eats I suppose) travels around the world finding bizarre foods in every country. Here's the link http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Shows/Bizarre_Foodsor

  10. I am a woman:) never intended to sound masculine.

  11. Sofisticos: Sorry! :) for some reason it was difficult to tell. You did not sound masculine. Not many men these day do anyway! LOL

  12. William O'Reilly16 July 2009 at 01:49

    They do a similar thing with Pigs Trotters in Scotland and Ireland and they are also popular in Germany.

  13. I surprised your russian readers did not notice you included "kotleti" to national azeri dishes ha-ha-ha

  14. Nata's Chris16 July 2009 at 21:00

    Yum! I love kholodets especially "s khrenom". And risking an international incident, I have to say Nata's mom makes the best I've ever had, too. I've had khash once....it was interesting. Kinda like kholodets that went wrong. I lived in the UK for years....give me siletka, boiled potatoes and black bread ANY day over pub grub. 100 grammov doesn't hurt, either.

  15. Khash is definitely a man's meal:) Azerbaijani men love it:) Great post as usual!

    By the way, Azerbaijani equivalent for kotleti would be tava-kabab, but yes, they are more known as kotlet than its original name:)

  16. I love khash and I'm not a man ))).
    Great blog!

  17. B thinks that to understand British cooking, you have to understand that it is all about using up the leftovers.

    He would argue we only do a roat anything in order to provide leftovers to turn into other food.

    He says it's because we are peasants who have had to get used to surviving on scraps from our master's table.

  18. Solnushka,

    "Peasants"? That sounds sooooo Russian, made me laugh.