Saturday 3rd March
Mongolians do not eat a lot of chicken. I have been asking about this, and one possible explanation may be related to the Mongolian taboo against eating young animals. Being informed that in England we almost exclusively eat lamb rather than mutton, Mongolians tend to adopt a rather dismayed and disapproving expression, which is somewhat touching coming from such a legendarily blood-thirsty people. "We do not eat baby animals," I am informed. Certainly, fond memories aside of tender cutlets and chops served by barbecuiste extraordinaire Graham 'Little Blue Boat' Stopforth on the Weaver last summer, I could happily forgo lamb for mutton: mutton does not taste so bad. As far as chicken goes, I am not yet won over. From the few leathery scraps of stewed bird I've eaten in the school canteen, it seems that the Mongolian taboo also applies to poultry, and a hen that has lived a full and productive life gets thrown into the pot only when it has died peacefully in its sleep from extreme age. Unfortunately, they do not make great eating.
It’s semi-official (ie, not official) folks: Bluegrass music now has a home in Mongolia, at the Meal Ody (wonderful pun) Jazz Club and Restaurant. Resident jazz combo 'U Bop' have for some mysterious and possibly sinister reason encouraged me to provide some musical contrast either between or before their Friday night set and I am very happy to oblige. Last night they played another blistering set, of which it was somewhat daunting to step up on stage during the interval. I was joined by a very amiable Ukrainian fellow, Vadik, on the harmonica. Vadik had borrowed a friend’s harmonica, which was happily a C harp (ie, perfect for blues in G). I played “Fireball Mail” and he got straight in there with some great bluesy blowing, and a very entertaining Cossack interpretation of flat-footing. Vadik carried on to hold “Mountain Dew” together whilst I bellowed the song at the clientele - making the most of the initial shock-factor that my particular approach to singing tends to create. Being on a roll, I then demonstrated my versatility and range by singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” (which of course shares the same chord structure and has mostly the same melody as “Mountain Dew”). We then quit while we were ahead and let the musicians get back to work, whilst we proceeded to celebrate our success somewhat disproportionately to our achievement.