My trip back to Maine to see family and talk about the chiru book was a highlight of this season. Thanks to my cousin Pat Dickinson who did so much to get ready for the library visit, my sisters Laura and Audrey Briggs who keep me grounded, and other family and friends who helped make those days so special.
While in Maine I visited with the eighth-graders at Tripp Middle School. My second cousin, Judy Reed, who teaches eighth grade and invited me, spent some time searching the internet for related materials to share with students. Perhaps others will find these videos useful, too.
This first video shows the four trekkers trying to get their carts through the “Gorge of Despair,” mentioned in The Chiru of High Tibet.
In search of the endangered chiru – Tibet’s Remote Chang Tang Plateau by Conrad Anker
“A Shawl to Die For” has shots of the weaving of the shahtoosh shawls.
A Shawl to Die For
The following videos, The Story of Tsoe (chiru) I and II, include wonderful panoramas of the Tibetan landscape and the chiru; part II deals with the illegal international trade in shahtoosh.
The Story of Tsoe – Part 1
The Story of Tsoe – Part 2
Now about those barley crackers:
Sometimes it helps students to feel closer to a faraway place to sample a little of the diet of that place. Tibetans eat a lot of barley. When I was traveling there during the months of May and June I saw many people planting barley in the rural areas not too far from Lhasa. They often eat ground barley mixed with tea. Our tastes might be more likely to enjoy crackers made with barley flour and cooked. Here’s a recipe I came up with:
1 cup barley flour
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T. butter
1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk.
Preheat oven to 400.
Mix barley flour, salt, and butter in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Add buttermilk and pulse. Add more by the teaspoonful, if necessary, until mixture holds together in a workable, but not sticky, dough.
Roll out on a surface, lightly floured with unbleached wheat flour, until 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Prick tops with the tines of a fork. Cut into squares or rectangles with a knife. Bake about 10 minutes on a lightly floured baking sheet.
Tibetans also use yak butter and yak cheese. Some Tibetans keep goats and milk them. I do not know that they make goat milk cheese, but when I serve barley crackers to students I serve them with butter and/or goats’ milk cheese. The authentic beverage would be tea with salt and (yak) butter, though I have to admit I saw many western beverages (colas, lemon-lime soft drinks) in Tibetan restaurants.