Thursday, October 26, 2006
The good news is that Pluvialis is back from Central Asia clutching a Bearded Vulture. The beard is really a set of splendid bristles on either side of the face (from the lores). Its alternative names tell us more about it. The German Lammergeier refers to its habit of scavenging, including the carcases of lambs. Its Spanish name Quebrantahuesos - "bone breaker" - refers to its habit of dropping bones from a height on to rocks in order to break them to get at the marrow. You'll need to go into a mountainous area to have a (slim) chance of seeing one. I was lucky enough to see four species of vulture in one day at a place called Kizilcihamam in Anatolia - griffon, Egyptian, black and bearded - but that was only with the help of a good local man, Tansu Gurpinar. For the record, I also visited the slaughter house to watch kites and other scavengers feeding on the hillside where all the offal was dumped daily. As a result, I contracted a malaria-like arbo infection and ended up nearly dead in Addenbrookes Hospital. That really was too high a price to pay for beauty.
Another piece of good news is that P has learned to make plov, a speciality of the Turkic Republics and now even more widespread. To say that it is rice dish with onions, carrots, lamb and spices gives little clue as to how delicious it is. It's all in the method of cooking, as usual.
As a bearded vulture myself, I am hoping to get an invitation to P's next plov banquet