Saturday, November 26, 2011

Are We Full Yet?

Early, early morning found me in the kitchen watching the cook prepare breakfast.  Two types of tea are served, standard sugar tea: boiling water, dry tea leaves, powdered milk and (too much) sugar, while the other tea, only served at breakfast as a tremendous fortifier is Yak Butter Tea, a Tibetan staple. It is hot, salty and of course buttery. On a freezing cold morning, before you have called forth your western palate and are hungry, it can work.

The staple of breakfast is round bread from barley flour made fresh every morning. It is accompanied with a small portion of lentils or red beans similar to our kidney beans. Some days there is peanut butter rather than beans, surely a western influence.

 To the right you can see the pressure cooker used for cooking the pulses. On the back wall is the wood burning stove. The wood is fed in from the left and pushed down until it is along the entire length below the cooking surface.

There's a rota schedule and the monks all serve, clear and clean for each meal. Kunga Jinpa is going for that first cup of hot morning tea, so his team must be on duty this AM.

Washup occurs outside in this open area with cold running water. Soap was nowhere to be seen. The clean items are piled in plastic baskets to drip dry and for reuse at the next meal. 

The dining hall is large, open, and freezing cold in the winter. The heat from the kitchen is non-existent. When the room fills up with bodies, kitchen sounds, and laughter it is a wonderful very large family experience.

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