Here is a bit of trivia: What is the coldest capital city in the world? Answer: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Ulaanbaatar is spelled with a “U”, but it is pronounced as if it were an “O”— like “Olaanbaatar”. Also of interest, there are actually four “O’s” in the Mongolian language, each with a slightly different pronunciation.
So – since it is so cold here – when my wife, Frances, says, “Gerald, go to the freezer and get a roast,” I step out the back door onto the deck of our 8th floor apartment and into the world’s largest freezer, where I grab a 10 pound chunk of meat, which is frozen solid. With temperatures frequently registering at 40 degrees below zero, the temperature is easily colder than your freezer at home. Interestingly, at 40 below, the Fahrenheit and Centigrade temperatures are exactly the same.
There is at least one good thing about the cold weather in Mongolia. One of the V.E.T. Net programs we administer is called Gift-of-Love (see the video available on our website and Facebook sites). This program provides sheep and goats to poor families in remote regions. When delivered during the late fall, animals that are slaughtered and processed will last throughout the entire winter due to the extreme cold temperatures.
Processing meat is not a problem, since almost every rural Mongolian knows how to do so. Neighbors help those too old or otherwise unable to process their own meat. The skins can be sold for cash to purchase flour, rice, and other essentials. Mutton is the favorite meat of Mongolians, but goats are provided to the poor in areas where there are few sheep. One of the principle advantages of goat meat is that it can be preserved by drying, using animal dung. The dung smoke gives the meat a special flavor, which actually improves over time. Cashmere goat skins are especially valuable.