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Breaking (and Baking) Bread:

The big iron stove was the focal point of lunch preparations. The first step was stoking it with plenty of wood.

Next, the wife mixed up some flour and water into a thick batter to make fresh flatbread. The girls were eager to pitch in and help with the mixing.

Batter was spooned out onto a flat griddle perched over open coals and grilled on both sides.


Meanwhile, the young husband took charge of the meat and potatos to be stir-fried together. First, a hunk of pork appeared - we didn't ask from where but it wasn't from a refrigerator! Perhaps as a hygiene precaution, he stuck the pork into the live coals for a few minutes, turning it several times.

After a few minutes, the outside was completely black. Then, he put it into a pan of water and scrubbed it vigorously before chopping it up into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, Chef Huang took charge of slicing the potatos.

As the potatos and pork hit the stir-fry, the last but arguably most important component of the meal was prepared: yak-butter tea, the traditional Tibetan way.

First, our hostess warmed some water by the fire in a family-made pitcher.

Some pressed tea leaves were broken off a brick and added.

Finally, the brewed tea was poured into a tall, narrow churn and pounded together with some yak butter taken from a small wooden box (you can see it by our hostess' right foot).

It was salty and yak-y, but Miranda and I liked it enough to drain our bowls!

After we sat down around the stove to eat, we used the tea to make tsampa, the staple food of Tibet. We were passed a wooden container of powdered barley flour, and our hosts demonstrated how to add it to the tea and then mix it all up into a thick paste.

Looks a lot like cookie dough. Doesn't taste like it, though. None of our group went back for seconds!

Luckily, the warm bread and flavorful pork and potatos dish amply filled us up. We were happy to chug the yoghurt Huang thoughtfully brought for us to drink, but we didn't need to crack open the fangbian mian (otherwise known as instant noodles).

Next: We Learn From The Master

Zhongdian chapters: Intro Monks Dressup Market Old City Pottery 1 Pottery 2 Pottery 3 Pottery 4
Yunnan chapter shortcuts: Intro Dali Lijiang Tiger Leaping Gorge Zhongdian

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