China Diary

Day 33: Mongolian dinner


Last night, we had the craziest dinner experience I’ve ever been to. Producer Max Wang is originally half-Mongolian, so he took us and some of his friends to a dinner at a place I want to call Little Mongolia, in Beijing.

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Max, Mongolian beauties, yours truly, and Mika!

The area consists of bunch of jurtas set up to serve as dining rooms, a huge lamb grilling station and a small pen for three camels. We were seated in one of the jurtas around a huge round table where the food was served. First, they brought in Mongolian tea – a big pot of boiling hot cow milk, which was then portioned into small wooden cups – not unlike Finnish kuksa of the indigenous Saami people.

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Max doing seating arrangements.

For drinks, they served beers, terrific red wine and – of course – the damn Chinese white wine. I mean, I love it, but it’s really heavy stuff, as I’ve told before… Anyway, we drank and enjoyed the Mongolian tea, and then the main guest was brought in: a full lamb that had been picked up to fry already one day before, and was now served to us on a huge platter. The lamb itself was sprayed on another table, it even had a pretty red ribbon on top of its’ head.

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Baaaaa!

Then, the dancers and the musicians swarmed in. At least 20 people, all dressed in traditional Mongolian dresses came in. We were given ceremonial golden vests, and me, Mika and Max were asked to the front to cut the lamb with a ceremonial knife. Afterwards, they started singing and dancing. There were beautiful ladies dancing, the guys were banging drums and we were whisked away on a trip through the Mongolian grasslands with throat singing and strange melodies.

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After some twenty-thirty minutes of performance, they left and we started eating. The lamb was just delicious, perfectly prepared and seasoned, added with the red wine and some sauces, I was in seventh heaven!

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As we had few more drinks, Max started to feel like singing, and later on, everyone was singing songs from their own culture – even I was forced to sing, and I chose “Pyydä mahdotonta” by CMX. I don’t know why. It was the only thing I could think of at that time. I did receive nice applauds for it, though, but really hearing Max sing (and he can sing!) and this Mongolian actress who was there singing, was really special. We do too little of that in Finnish culture – of course, there’s karaoke, but these guys were great without anything.

It was a terrific evening with great food, music and an experience I’ve never had! I only wish I had my lovely, dear wife Annika there with me to share it.

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