This ancient flavour, which takes place in the literature as “Kars Goose”, and which really requires special effort in every phase, is the favourite of Kars banquet meals.
Pictured goosed figure on some kitchen tools, which were found out in the archaeological excavations, is an important sign, which shows how deep this culture in Kars is, which people maintained from old generations.
Cold and hard winter conditions are the first things we think of when someone speaks of Kars. People can comply with minimum conditions to maintain their life even in the hardest conditions with their thousand years old experience and tradition. People of Kars see the opportunities (impossibilities) of this geographical region as blessings and cook fantastic meals especially in the gastronomical sense. The goose, in the name of which wise sayings have been said and songs have been sung, is such a blessing. This ancient flavor, which takes place in the literature as “Kars Goose”, and which really requires special effort in every phase, is the favorite of Kars banquet meals.
Goslings hatch at the end of the very hard winter conditions and are fostered in the first 3-5 days by the women in the house. During this time they are fed in a special way if necessary. In the first twenty days, they are like the babies of the house. Gaggles are taken to prairies by the youngest girl or boy of the house in the following days to eat very green grasses. Sometimes grandmothers involve in this “goose grazing” work and give a special meaning to transferring of experience to grandchildren.
Actually, according to me, goose should not be in the statue of barnyard fowl, because they are fed by being grazed in the prairies and not by being bated in the poultry house. The self-esteem of the children, who manage to feed these geese in the best way and make them reach autumn, and their statue in the family are other important facts.
When autumn comes, the harvest time also comes, and geese are fed with pieces, which could not be harvested, so that they fatten. In the end of this effort requiring but also proud process, people wait for snow in Kars. With the snow geese fatten more and get ready for the cutting. It is time for the geese to be cut and garnish dinner tables.
Geese will be cut, cleaned well and rubbed with thick salt. Afterward, they will be dried in a sheltered outdoor space or in the yard by being hanged with rope from their feet. The must of this traditional procedure is the frosty weather. This is a perfect climate condition for this region and the geese. This harmony is unique because in another region there is not such frosty weather and wind.
Geese, which complete the drying process, are stored in the deep freezers for 12 months nowadays. But actually, they were stored in wooden crates in the past. People did not forget, that relatives, who are away from home, neighbors and poor people also have a right to share these geese.
Now It’s Banquet Time
Now it is time for the goose to get on the stage, which is the favorite of family banquets, invitations and happy moments. It is important to know that it is still cooked with traditional methods. Goose meat will firstly be cleaned from the salt on it and it will be boiled. Into a tandoori, which is in the form of cinders, a big boiler full of bulgur will be put and the goose will be hanged, so that it is placed upon the bulgur. Onto the bulgur, which is boiled below, the unique melted goose fat dribbles and gets as brown as a berry. The time to tuck away in it has come.
There is also a tradition and custom of eating goose meat. The goose leg will be offered to the head of the household and to guests. The goose breast will be offered to the mother, to the children various meats will be offered, and especially to girls goose wings will be offered. This is actually a wish for them to “develop wings and fly from home”. To understand what “goose” means in Kars it is required to know this anonymous sentence: “Kill the father of Terekeme, but don’t kill his goose”.
By: Salih Çil
*This article was published in the January– February issue of Marmara Life.