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To eat there is always plenty, though of a somewhat rude and monotonous description. Fowls, fowls, fowls, eternally fowls, are the only procurable variety of animal food, and these fowls are of a peculiarly fibrous, stringy, ancient and indigestible species. No cooking, whether good or bad, can convert them into enjoyable food. The usual way is to boil them: bow to your fate and accept them in that form. You can get no vegetables, but in their place will be served with rice or boiled wheat. The rice is generally good, and before being placed on the table is saturated with ghee or liquid butter very frequently also some goats' milk cheese — a mild imitation of the well known Limburger — is boiled with the grain, and impregnates it with a flavor said to be not unpleasant — when one gets accustomed to it. The boiled wheat is called burgo, and is really not unpalatable. For bread you will get thin unleavened cakes of coarse flour, about a foot in diameter, and in thickness varying from a sixteenth of an inch to a couple of inches. These are known over this part of the East among Europeans as slapjacks. Before being eaten they are generally warmed, but as in many places the only fuel in use is dried cowdung, I have, as a rule, preferred to eat them cold. Lastly, there are milk and eggs and a singular preparation of milk called leben. Leben is milk slightly soured and curdled. I have tried several times to find out how it is made, but with only partial success. The invariable answer has been that a little leben is thrown into the milk, which in a few hours also becomes leben. But how do you manage if you have no leben? I have asked. Such a thing has never happened in the memory of man, and if it ever does happen leben will probably become a thing of the past. As it is very palatable and refreshing, this would be a pity. I am told, however, that it can be dried in the sun and that in this form it may be preserved for several months. The New York Herald, 20 August 1870


The New York Herald, 20 August 1870