Wylie and Helene|
Goat's Head Soup
One morning we headed up the valley from Tosh Bulak with Kenjibeck for a hike in the hills. He flagged down a passing van filled to the brim with folks singing annd laughing. They were going to have a goat feast and invited us to join them. We piled in and found a place amongst the arms, legs, blankets and baskets.
The van struggled up the canyon. Each swerve around a pothole elicited shreaks of glee from the interior. Beyond the last homestead we pulled over and parked. Everyone carried the provisions down to the riverside and we began to install ourselves under some shady trees.
Le conducteur prenait plaisir a produire chez ses passagers des reactions de surprise a chaque obstacle qu’il evitait de facon plutot acrobatique. On s’est finalement bien rendu a destination et avons pris place a l’ombre des arbres longeant la riviere avec le reste du groupe de fetards. Un besh birmack se preparait et on etait invite.
A small car, equally stuffed, was tagging along with our group. After unloading quite a bit of gear from the trunk, they finally hoisted out a goat, looking a bit road weary. The lead him over to the assembled group. Cupping our hands in front of us we symbolically received the blessings of his life and nourishment. We then washed these blessing over our face, in effect anointing ourselves with the bounty of life.
This ceremony has Moslem roots and is known to all rural Krygyzs. It took place without orchestration and other than the thrashing of the glacial green river next to us, it passed in complete silence.
Our focused intention was clear to the goat. He now knew his gig was up. He immediately emptied his bladder. As he stumbled to the water’s edge he emptied his bowels. He then collapsed right where we planned to slaughter him.
La chevre a paru tres bien comprendre le but de cette priere. Elle en a vide sa vessie et ses intestins de peur, d’apprehension, juste avant de se laisser tomber a l’endroit meme ou on avait prevu la sacrifier.
Two men knelt next to him. With efficiency of movement his legs were tied, his muzzle held and his neck was slit open. I saw no resistance or struggle.
The blood pumped from his neck, streamed down a short bank and then entered, mixed and dissipated into the churning water.
The goat remained still, as if in a reverie. Perhaps watching his life pass before him. His eyes faded.
Less than a minute passed. The blood was now only a trickle, the body still. Suddenly a wave of spasms passed over him… once, twice, thrice. Then it was over; he had given up the ghost.
The two men set to work and dressed him out. His organs were separated and cleaned. The meters and meters of intestine were braided together. Everything was destined for a giant cauldron.
Les deux experts se sont acharnes a la deshabiller de ses organes. Les metres de long de ses intestins se sont fait tresses avant de se faire ajouter au chaudron de soupe.
The one exception were his testes. They were skewered on a stick, rolled in salt and roasted over a small fire. When ready the men gathered around and drank shots of vodka between mouthfuls of the succulent meat.
This male virility ceremony engendered good feelings and brotherhood. It is an ancient ritual found in all cultures that have not lost their roots.
The women, still laughing and singing, were peelingt and dicing piles of carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. Samovars were fired up to provide the ubiquitous chai, or tea.
Another fire was set to scorch off the fur and flesh from the goat’s head. Afterwards it was placed floating in the center of the cauldron. The guest of honor.
Un autre feux, un peu plus loin, servait a scalper la tete. Une fois le festin servi, la tete est devenue le centre de table. L’invite d’honneur.