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Primal Warriors: How the Mongols Ate

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  • Primal Warriors: How the Mongols Ate

    In "Genghis Khan, and the Making of the Modern World" Jack Weatherford (p.87) writes the following about the Mongol army's diet:
    "The Chinese noted with surprise and disgust the ability of the Mongol warriors to survive on little food and water for long periods; according to one, the entire army could camp without a single puff of smoke since they needed no fires to cook. Compared to the Jurched soldiers, the Mongols were much healthier and stronger. The Mongols consumed a steady diet of meat, milk, yogurt and other dairy products, and they fought men who lived on gruel made from various grains. The grain diet of the peasant warriors stunted their bones, rotted their teeth and left them weak and prone to disease. In contrast, the poorest Mongol soldier ate mostly protein, thereby giving him strong teeth and bones. Unlike the Jurched soldiers, who were dependent on a heavy carbohydrate diet, the Mongols could more easily go a day or two without food."

  • #2
    Interesting, thanks for sharing.
    .`.><((((> .`.><((((>.`.><((((>.`.><(( ((>
    ><((((> .`.><((((>.`.><((((>.`.><(( ((>

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    • #3
      Did you guys see the Bizarre Foods episode in Mongolia? They roasted a cow and went straight for the subcutaneous fat. They eat a TON of dairy. Overall, it seemed all very primal.
      http://www.theprimalprepper.com - preparing for life's worst while living for the best

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      • #4
        Interesting people. I really enjoyed Conn Iggulden's historical novels about them, too. He's in the Bernard Cornwell class as a writer, and his research is accurate, too.

        Originally posted by JeffC View Post
        In "Genghis Khan, and the Making of the Modern World" Jack Weatherford (p.87) writes the following about the Mongol army's diet:
        "The Chinese noted with surprise and disgust the ability of the Mongol warriors to survive on little food and water for long periods; according to one, the entire army could camp without a single puff of smoke since they needed no fires to cook.
        It's always said they'd put a lump of meat under the saddle to warm a little - hence "steak tartare" (the Mongols often being referred to as Tartars in the West). They'd have access to the horses' blood and mares' milk when on the move, too.

        [By] contrast, the poorest Mongol soldier ate mostly protein, thereby giving him strong teeth and bones.
        That's not quite right, of course. The public still has a kind of "protein mythology". "Protein" was all the rage back in the early part of the 20th century; it's stock has gone down since, but it's never quite disappeared from the public consciousness. The Mongols had more than adequate supplies of protein in the diet, which is good, but people in the modern West don't go short of protein, but do have problems with their teeth. What's most important for teeth and bones is an abundant supply of the right minerals in the diet and plenty of fat-soluble vitamins to enable you to use those minerals. They'd get those from their high fat consumption.

        It's said that an important source of vitamin C for the Mongols was tea (imported from China) - the leaves and all being consumed.

        The WAPF has some interesting notes on the Mongols' diet, as they have on so much else. I thought their lack of "hygiene", commented on in old Russian sources quoted by the WAPF writer, specially interesting. Cleanliness didn't worry them, but because their ecosystem worked and their animals were grass fed (which makes the dung less offensive and even slightly antiseptic), they didn't fall sick.

        http://www.westonaprice.org/in-his-f...-mongolia.html
        Last edited by Lewis; 07-19-2010, 11:06 PM.

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        • #5
          Mongols! One of the few restaurants in my town where you can still get an (almost) primal meal is at Genghis Grill, which is a Mongolian BBQ place where you basically build your own stir fry and then they cook it for you. There is only once sauce that doesn't have sugar (asian chile) and they use canola oil, but it's a good place to get a treat and still almost be 100% primal by going out to eat.
          On a side note, that movie Mongol is awesome!

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          • #6
            Mongols!
            Very interesting. Thanks for posting this!

            I don't know why, but I have always been fascinated with Mongolia. Even as a little kid, I would ask my mom to point out Mongolia on the globe (remember those globes we used to have in school?) and found Mongolian horses (which look different from other horses!) so interesting.

            I have a rare blood type, and it's said that the only people who have this blood type on the planet are all descendents of the Mongols. (Which is hilarious if you saw me -- they don't come more honkey-lookin' than moi!)

            I will definitely be checking out that historical fiction (love the genre) mentioned above.

            Roger, I've also put 2 and 2 together and figured out that Mongolian Grill is a good eating out option for us primal types. I'm always on the scout for restaurants.
            "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -- Hippocrates

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            • #7
              Originally posted by TigerLily View Post
              I will definitely be checking out that historical fiction (love the genre) mentioned above.
              He's got three in the series - Wolf of the Plains, Lords of the Bow, and Bones of the Hills, and a new one out in September:

              http://www.conniggulden.com/

              I carried the first three around with me - couldn't put them down.

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              • #8
                Lewis:
                These looks amazing, and the reviews are through the roof! There is a neat little 2-1/2-minute interview with the author over on amazon.com. These go to the top of the pile. Thank you!
                "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." -- Hippocrates

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                • #9
                  Great post as I find the subject interesting as well. I also enjoyed the Bizarre Foods episode in Mongolia as well!
                  You'll never see the light if you're in someone else's shadow, or said another way, life is like a dog sled team, if you're not the lead dog, the scenery never changes

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Mainer View Post
                    Great post as I find the subject interesting as well. I also enjoyed the Bizarre Foods episode in Mongolia as well!
                    I'm glad you said that. Found some clips here:

                    http://www.travelchannel.com/TV_Show...isode_Mongolia

                    I also, I have to admit, found the full thing on Youtube. It was really interesting show. Still a lot of meat and fat and full-fat dairy eaten over there - and, unsurprisingly, I'm not sure I saw any fat people. The fattest person around looked to be Andrew himself.

                    The fried curd was interesting. Like rock, the presenter said, and you need good teeth to chew it. He also said the warriors used to carry bags of it. I can see that: it would be highly calorific and too dry to go off easily - a real iron ration.

                    I was assuming the black airag was only mildly alcoholic, but according to a travel site I found:

                    Airag has included 7-8% of alcohol. So you will drink a lot of airag maybe you hang over.
                    http://www.discovermongolia.mn/count..._beverage.html

                    Maybe, indeed.

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                    • #11
                      This is a cool topic, I have quite near me a mongolian restruant - Kublai khans- its fantastic. for starters you are given a bowl that its quite small; you can fill this bowl with noddles or rice (this is optional if you dont want to dont do it, its to cater to the times and CW and not historically accurate). Then you get to pick your veggies they have all the basics and even some out there stuff like pinapple to add a kick but the truely genious part is the meat. You pick the meat you choose raw and have the choice of chicken, beef, kangaroo, ostrich, feasant, rabbit, shark, crocodile, springbok, duck, wild boar, zebra and muscles. Next step is to go to a massive counter and select your spices with a range of about 25 different spices to add you customise your dish and then a chef cooks your meal on a table with two swords. - the reason for the small bowl is unlimited refils.

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                      • #12
                        OP here, interesting about the historical fiction by Conn Iggulden, never heard of him until now. I had heard of Bernard Cornwell and his British Isles based historical fiction but not read any yet.

                        The description of the restaurant in Scotland sounds awesome, I'm salivating thinking about it.

                        The "Weeping Camel" was a pretty interesting and current movie about nomads in Mongolia, worth checking out if you have not seen it.

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                        • #13
                          Ive read the first of the mongol trilogy by Conn Iggulden and i strongly recommend it.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by JeffC View Post
                            OP here, interesting about the historical fiction by Conn Iggulden, never heard of him until now. I had heard of Bernard Cornwell and his British Isles based historical fiction but not read any yet.
                            That would be the "King Arthur" series? It's very good. So are his Sharpe books, American Civil War "Starbuck" series, viking series, and mediaeval novels.

                            There tend to be recurrent themes and motifs. The heros and heroines are usually very good-looking. Wicked or disturbed characters are frequently ugly. The latter often have a twitch or a clubbed foot. I guess this is partly a pictorial device, whereby outer appearance is made to stand for inner character. Partly it's a psychological thing: the twitching is a result of a bad conscience; a deformity can set someone apart and so cause them to become envious. There are also themes that are obviously autobiographical: the author was adopted, and his hero is often displaced in some way; the author went through a rigid nonconformist upbringing, and there are some caustic (but all too historically and psychologically plausible) portrayals of "religious" characters. But despite his personal atheism Cornwell is too subtle a man to make characters stalking horses for "bashing" Christianity, and he's also historically well-informed enough to make characters' theological views correct for the period. Similarly, he's always aware of social and political backgrounds, but he doesn't really ride political hobby horses, as so many writers - who are really offering propaganda not art - do.

                            So some recurrent motifs. Nevertheless, the books aren't merely formulaic. This is a very intelligent writer and capable of plot turns that work but that even seasoned readers probably won't predict. He also does his research thoroughly. Too many historical novels just seem to be about what are really modern people wearing fancy dress, but with Cornwell you often feel that something a character says or does is just the sort of thing that sort of person in just that place and time might say or do.

                            I think Conn Iggulden has some of the same virtues as a writer. There's a kind of impartiality. He's not trying to make any points; he's trying to put flesh on the bones of history, to show that world how he thinks it was.

                            The King Arthur books might not be a bad place to start if his stuff is of interests, though many Americans might find a special local interest in the Starbuck books:

                            http://www.bernardcornwell.net/index...e=1&seriesid=2

                            The King Arthur series is unusual in that in some ways we know so little about the period. For example, you have druids in the story, but we really know next to nothing about them. It mostly boils down to what Posidonius of Apamea wrote, and most other classical references are bits taken from that (missing) source. There's some archaeological evidence (although sometimes that can be interpreted in more than one way), and there are some plausible deductions one can make from (relatively) late Irish and Welsh literature.

                            Cornwell makes the main character a man who as a child escaped from a "druid's death pit" and is brought up among strangers. (You see what I mean about there often being a "displaced" main character.) That's an imaginative and possible way to use the physical evidence. There are pits from the period; they seem to have offerings in; there's often a stake (or a branch at any rate) in them. However, we've no way of knowing that they belonged to druids. And they're usually pretty deep, so I doubt you'd crawl out if you missed the impalement stake, if that's what it was. The whole thing is a bit like that: there are genuine ties to hard evidence, but at the same time you've got (necessarily) a conjectural reconstruction.

                            Anyway, apologies to people for putting this in the Mongol thread, but I thought it might be helpful to the O.P.

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                            • #15
                              Lewis, thanks for the insights. I totally forgot that Cornwell wrote the Sharpe's War series, I've seen a few on TV and while it has many British characters, it definitely takes place mainly on the Iberian Peninsula, or at least the ones that I have seen. For some reason I only thought of Cornwell in the context ofwhat Amazon calls the Saxon Chronicles, that's what I was associating primarily with him, and I had no idea he wrote about other areas. The Wall Street Journal had a very positive review of one of the books in the Saxon Chronicles a few years ago and I had it filed away back in my head to read the first one in the series but never got around to it. My profession involves a lot of reading so in my free time I tend to not read as much. I got it in my head to read "Life and Fate" by Vassily Grossman this winter and it took me nearly 3 months but it was worth it.

                              I also read a fascinating article about how English developed, I doubt Cornwell gets into this level of detail but if you speak German (or can get one of those translation things to work) and want to read the article, here is a link to it.

                              http://www.nzz.ch/nachrichten/kultur..._1.746982.html

                              You are definitely the expert on this area of historical fiction and I am going on vacation next week, so if you just had time to read one book for now, would you recommend the first book in Cornwell's the Saxon Chronicles ("The Last Kingdom") or the first book in Iggulden's books on Genghis Khan ("Birth of an Empire"). I don't think Iggulden's books are formally a series but at least from the little I have read about them on Amazon, it looks like the second one takes off from where the first ended, so I would probably start with "Birth of an Empire", pending your recommendation.

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