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Taste of Tibet

Nosh on noodles and momos at Memorial Auditorium


Most Americans have never sampled Tibets most important food staple: Barley flour, called tsampa, is commonly mixed with yak butter and tea. Rolled into little balls, the dish which is also called tsampa accompanies almost every meal. Dried salted beef, mutton and yak meat are also crucial, as are dairy products such as yogurt and cheese.

While tsampa and yak jerky wont be on the menu at Burlingtons fifth-annual Tibet Festival, youll find other Himalayan food specialties such as sha-momos and tse-momos meat and vegetarian dumplings, respectively along with a variety of noodle dishes prepared by native Tibetans and their families.

Most Tibetans are Buddhists, and their religion discourages taking life for food. But due to the harsh environment, meat is widely eaten, according to Nancy Lindberg, who married into Vermonts Tibetan community. Their unique perspective on meat consumption is that if a life must be taken to feed people, it is better that it be the life of a larger animal. The meat . . . will feed many more people than a smaller animal would, and only one life is taken.

Tibetans in exile have to make a lot of dietary adjustments. Ground beef is often substituted for yak meat in dumplings, and yak dairy products are hard to come by. Local Tibetans drink chang, an alcoholic homebrew made from fermented barley, as an important part of the Tibetan New Year celebration. But it wont be served at the festival, says Lindberg, because its a family event. Catch a natural Himalayan high at Memorial Auditorium on Saturday, November 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.