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Food and People: Bhutan

By Andrew Chapman | January 20, 2011

Photo: Andrew Chapman

The peaceful tradition of Bhutan is more than a historical fact – it is a way of life. The country is self-proclaimed place of calm and tranquility.

The streets are filled with vivid signs of the country’s rich cultural heritage. Color is bursting from every stairway, door, and street. A parade filled with people in traditional bird-costume goes by and, not far away, a woman weaves a stunningly brilliant textile.

The everyday lives of the Bhutanese seem dignified rather than out of date. Even their cooking approach is extremely simple, with most dishes seasoned only with chili and salt. This method, however plain it may seem, yields fantastically rich dishes, such as pork, mushroom, and chili stew, served alongside rice or noodles. This dazzling blend is a perfect accompaniment to the crisp, unpolluted air so rare in the rest of the world.

Most Butanese citizens are Buddhist, and there is a delightful emphasis is on the achievement and maintenance of happiness.  Rather than measuring a national GDP, the government attempts to measure the Gross National Happiness of its citizens. There is also high value placed on the environment and keeping up local traditions.

Cheese is another local love, whether it be from cow or yak’s milk. There really is nothing quite comparable to the bitter tang of yak’s milk and its products, which include yogurt, butter, and a variety of cheeses. However, these delicacies are only made during the part of the year that the yaks are able to grade on the fertile mountain slopes.

Bhutan is a feast not only for the senses, but for the soul!

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting snapshots from different spots around the world and encourage you to do the same. You can share your photos by emailing us at FoodandPeople@SamuelssonGroup.com You can also submit a post on Tumblr which we review before posting our favorites here on MarcusSamuelsson.com

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