All posts filed under: Food

Eating Sheep and Sangza

On the last day of the four day celebration of the biggest Uyghur holiday of the year Qurban Heyt, or Eid al-Adha, it rained hard and cold. By the next morning a light dusting of snow covered the tops of the mountains overlooking the city. Like many holidays of sacrifice and harvest, it signals the end of the season of growth and the beginning of the long hard winter. In a week the heat will be turned on across the city. People are already beginning to sell long-underwear in the walkway at the intersection of Solidarity and Victory Roads next to the Grand Bazaar. Rumors began circulating that the city officials would turn on the central heating system in five days. Rather than waiting until October fifteenth, they would get the creaking radiators filled early. But during the past week no one seemed to think about the onset of winter. Everyone was bustling. Men were buying sheep or keeping an eye out for knife sharpeners as they circulated from housing complex to housing complex. By …

Qurban and the Social Effects of Uyghur Food

  The first indication that the Qurban festival has arrived in Northwest China is the pooling of sheep outside every block of Uyghur tenements in the cities of Xinjiang. Quivering clumps of fat-tailed sheep are tied to branches as men begin sharpening knives for ritual slaughter. After the throat is cut, a small opening is made in a leg and air is blown from mouth to shank. The sheep is then hung from the nearest available beam or branch and skinned. Under ideal circumstances, every part will be used. If you can’t afford a whole sheep yourself, or you can’t be bothered with butchering it yourself, makeshift slaughterhouses at the entrance to public parks will sell you a bulging sack full of mutton to take home and roast (or at times in the Uyghur case – boil) like an American with a Butterball turkey on Thanksgiving. This year Qurban Heyt or Eid al-Adha, the Islamic holiday which commemorates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son through the sacrifice of a ram, coincides with the annual turning on of …