Quarantine is now just about at its year point, which is kind of mind-blowing. Fortunately, the world has a lot of countries to visit by way of a virtual date night! This time around, we head to Mongolia, the big splotch of country between China and Russia that nobody seems to know much about outside of the Mongol hordes. What is the place like? What do they do? What do they eat? Join us as we explore those questions!
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Mongolian-Themed Date Night
Eat: Bantan and Gambir
When people think of Mongolian food, they think of Mongolian beef. Well, that’s not Mongolian. Same with Mongolian BBQ, though that’s a bit closer. Most Mongolian food involves meet and dairy, which makes sense given the nomadic lifestyle of herdsmen. I, however, don’t have a large open flame over which to cook big pieces of meat, so I opted for the Mongolian soup, bantan. Bantan is fairly simple, a light broth seasoned with garlic and ginger, to which one adds beef and little lumps of flour mixed with water to make a sort of loose and tiny dumpling. I also added a couple eggs for some ribbons, and green onions on top. A bit of salt and pepper, and that’s seriously it. Super tasty, though, and Anthony Bourdain called it an incredible hangover cure.
Bantan was a big hit!
A made dessert, as always. Gambir are almost like pancakes, a lightly sweetened dough fried in a bit of oil in a pan. They can be served with anything, but with just a tad more sugar after being taken out of the pan, I found them perfect! They are crispy and chewy, in all the right ways.
The gambir have slits to prevent them from being a big bubble when fried.
Learn: The Animated History of Mongolia
I am so grateful for YouTube and for the amazing people who create content like this animated history of Mongolia. Cute and informative, it’s worth watching even if you don’t do a date night. But do a date night anyway.
Visit: Highlights of Mongolia
So what is there to do in Mongolia, the most sparsely populated country in the world? This video talks about visiting nomadic tribes and exploring the Gobi Desert. Both seem worthwhile, no? I wish it had done a bit on the capital of Ulaanbaatar, where half of the country’s three million people live, but it was still decent.
In this video, we follow a tour group as they experience some of Mongolia’s highlights.
Watch: Genghis Khan Documentary
The BBC knows how to do a good documentary, and this one on the life of Mongolia’s most famous ruler, Genghis Khan, is no exception. Did you know that .5% (one in two hundred) of all men in the world have ancestry tracing back to Genghis Khan, and 8% of those in the land that was his former empire? It’s crazy, and so was the guy’s entire life! He rightfully gets portrayed as a villain in most things – he did, after all, seem to have a fetish with burning, raping, and murdering – but he also created a complex empire, empowered one of his wives to lead while he was out doing the things he loved to other civilizations around him, and employed a true meritocracy in a world that had only known aristocracy prior. So a villain, but one worth watching a documentary about.
Before this date night, I knew very little about Mongolia, and I’m glad I had the chance to change that, even if only a tad. I hope you take your own date night to this fascinating country!
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