Genghis Khan took off his helmet and blood-stained vest as he surveyed the vast flame in front of him. No, he wasn’t gazing at the burning ruins of a city. Not tonight. The Great Khan and his horde of unruly warriors were going to have a feast to end all feasts in celebration of their successful campaign against the Khwarezmid Empire. Some of them thrust their swords over their heads as they shouted to the heavens.
The day before, the Great Khan had ordered each soldier to kill at least 24 Urgench citizens as a punishment for their resistance to Mongol rule. Such were the times. There were nearly 50,000 men in his army. Rain that morning had already washed away the blood of those sins.
But back to the festivities at hand. The night air was cool and dry. A harvest moon blessed the western horizon. And though the sky was full of stars, it seemed as if not even the stars themselves could outnumber the mighty Mongolian army. Throat singers sang the songs of their ancestors. The low vibrations of their chants reached somewhere deep within souls of the men and made the animal spirits dance for joy. Savory and sweet smells – of chicken, sausage, tofu, strip steak, and scallops – filled the air.
The Great Khan grabbed a red bowl that was situated next to several tables full of metal trays containing raw food. He filled the bowl with rice noodles, chicken, bean sprouts, broccoli, and red skin potatoes. The fluorescent lights glared on his face. Next, he took a three ounce cup and filled it with peanut sauce.
Hot saliva dripped from his mouth as a cook sliced and stirred his food over a large circular grill. Finally, the cook poured the peanut sauce over the ingredients the Great Khan had so carefully chosen and used his spatula to dump the food back into the bowl. He then handed the bowl to the Great Khan and nodded. In appreciation, the Great Khan rang a gong that was by the grill, and the cook cheered to show his appreciation for the Great Khan’s gesture.
The Great Khan rushed back to his table and immediately dug into his chow with a fork. With noodles still dangling from his mouth, he flashed a smile for a passing tourist’s camera and said, “Go mongo!”
So you may have noticed some historical inaccuracies
in the above account. What I really described to you was what it’s like to eat at BD’s Mongolian Grill in present day Royal Oak, MI. Here’s how BD’s describes
the culinary customs of the Mongols:
“Centuries ago, the Mongols, under the Mighty Khan [notice that I call him the Great Khan], ruled the Eastern Plains. After days of fighting and hunting, they would gather in large community groups to celebrate their adventures and their successes.
Communing in banquet-style pavilions, the Mongols would create a ‘feast’ for all to enjoy by combining slivers of meat & vegetables, sliced with their razor-sharp swords, then cooked on their overturned shields over a blazing fire.”
Sadly, the Mongols never really ate that way, but it makes for a good story. And hey, the food is still delicious! Plus, it’s all-you-can-eat.
BD’s Mongolian Grill was founded in Michigan and now has a location in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. They even beat McDonald’s to Mongolia!