Food and drink in Tibet are much related to climate, local products, religion and folk customs.
Traditional staple food of Tibetan is Tsampa, roasted barley flour mixed with Tibetan yak-butter tea. Tibetan usually get some flour with salted butter tea in a bowl, rotate the bowl with the left hand and mix the food with the fingers of the right hand, roll it into small lump, then squeeze it into the mouth with the fingers. Other ingredients may also be added to enrich the flavors. Tibetans eat Tsampa every day and bring it as snack food while traveling.
Yak Butter, refined from the milk of yaks, is the daily food of Tibetans. It has very high value of nutrition. The way of Tibetans to refine yak butter is very intriguing. Tibetan nomads usually refine milk in the primitive segregators manually. They pour the heated milk into a big wooden bucket called "Xue Dong", then whip forcibly up and down for many times to segregate butter from water. Gradually a tier of something light yellow was afloat, subsequently ladle the butter and put it into a leather bag to cool it.
Beef and Mutton
Tibetans like to eat beef and mutton because meat can provide enough energy to withstand coldness in the high elevation areas. Usually Tibetans boil beef and mutton with salt, ginger and spices. They take the meat in hands and cut them with their knives. Some Tibetans like to eat dried beef and mutton. In the winter, Tibetans cut beef and mutton into long stripes and hung in shaded place. The dried meat is crisp and tastes good.
Yoghurts and Milk Sediments
The popular milk products are yoghourt and milk sediment. There are two kinds of yoghourts. One is "Daxue" (Tibetan word), which is made of milk from which ghee has been refined; the other is "Exue" (Tibetan word) made of milk from which ghee has not been refined. Yoghourt is a kind of food full of nourishing components and easier to digest. Milk sediment is usually used to make Tibet buns.
Tibetans like varied sausages made of yak meat, yak blood and flour.
Momo, Tibetan "Ravioli or dumpling", is the most famous and popular of Tibetan food. The half-moon-shaped Momo filled with meat, vegetables and ginger can be either steamed or fried.
Thenthuk (Tibetan Noodle Soup)
A typical Tibetan noodle soup can keep the nomads withstand the coldness during winter time. It can be made either with vegetables or meat.
Salted Yak Butter Tea
The salted butter tea is made of boiled tea poured into a long cylindrical churn along with salt and yak butter. Vigorous churning makes the ingredients well blended and ready to serve. Tibetan people drink it throughout the whole day. Almost every traveler samples the yak butter tea because it is surely to be a highlight of the trip to Tibet.
Sweet Milk Tea
Besides salted yak butter tea, sweet milk tea is also popular among Tibetans. Hot boiling black tea filtered is decanted into a churn, and mixed with fresh milk and sugar. Many teashops in Tibet serve the sweet milk tea. It is worth of trying it on the trip.
Tibetan Barley Wine
Known as Chang, Tibetan barley wine is brewed from fermented barley grown on the highland. The wine is mild, slightly sweet and sour and contains little alcohol. The taste of alcohol differs from one to another due to the brewing method and duration. It is a very popular alcoholic drink in Tibet.
From: Tibet Travel Information Center
By Bin Hu
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