Monday, September 14, 2009

Tales from our Kazakhstan adoption journey 2.5 years ago

As you know from Counting my Blessings my husband and I travelled to Kazakhstan almost 3 years ago to adopt our fourth child, second son. I recently added a link to my blog to follow the journey and in the process started reading it again. I couldn't believe that I had forgotten some of these stories. I laughed out loud at some of our adventures and thought I'd share a few of them with you all from time to time.

Big D and I want to share with you a few notes on the food
here. First of all, shopping is not for the faint of heart. Daily
we scour multiple stores including our personal favorite "The
Chicken Store". We think this is just the affectionate name given it by our driver, Pascha. We're unclear about the reason. They do sell chicken, but I think it's a
play on words or something.

Mixed meat
I decided before coming to Kaz that I was coming as a vegetarian.
I'd read about their liberal use of horse meat and I'd seen pictures
of meat hanging out in open bazaars. The USDA leaves lots to be
desired, I'm sure, but I find myself suddenly comforted by their presence. Regulations on the butchering and processing of meat- probably a good idea.
Big D, on the other hand, like Esau, enjoys spicey meat. So every time he orders something off the menu, it's with meat. The interesting thing is that often the dish professes "mixed meat". Beef, horse, lamb- what's the difference? It's meat. I
don't know if they like the taste of mixed meat or if it's more for
convenience sake. You run out of lamb- no problem- just throw in a little extra horse

We become elated when we recognize something that looks familiar in
the food department and since I had just eaten our last breakfast
bar from home I was on the lookout for breakfast food. I found
muffins in the bakery of the chicken store and was anxious to get our translator over to find out what kind of muffins they were.
Our conversation- Me: "Larissa, what kind of muffins are these?"
Larissa: "What mean what kind? They are muffins."
me: "I see that they have raisins in them, are they bran muffins?"
Larissa: "No, not brown, they are muffins, they are yellow inside."
I try one last time: "But what do they have added to them? Are
they blueberry muffins- what kind of muffins are they?"
Larissa, exascerbated with me- "They are muffins! Like cake, but

Just as I was reaching for a Nestle chocolate bar, Katya, our young
substitute translator stepped in with "May I make a suggestion?"
What could I say? I mean, the last thing I need is advice in
picking a chocolate bar, but she's so eager to please and we'd been
disappointing her by going straight back to the apartment daily and
had yet to take her up on her invitation to see her city. So I
said "Sure, of course, you can." She handed me two different
chocolate bars made in Kazakhstan. We tried them out later that
evening and although the taste wasn't bad, it was chocolate after
all, it was as if air had been bubbled throughout the bar. It was a
funny texture. It didn't feel like a chocolate bar. Our initial hypothesis
was that this was a way to save money by diluting the chocolate and
selling it by the volume and not weight. The next time we were at
the chicken store, though, we noticed that even Nestle markets
an "Aero" bar for Kazakhstan. I guess they just like air in their
chocolate bars.

Pasta sauce
One thing they do have here is pasta- spaghetti, macaroni, rotini,
you name it. So I immediately put some in the cart and started
looking around for some sauce. On the aisle opposite the pasta was
ketchup. Unphased, I continued searching for a nice big jar of
Prego. When I asked Katya where the pasta sauce was she pointed to
the ketchup. I said "You put ketchup on your spaghetti?" "Of
course," she said. We even had Katya ask the store clerk, whom we
ask something strange of daily I guess, and she said that was all
they had. Later, at the chicken store (they must cater to expatriot
Americans)Big D spied, could it be, a small jar sporting the name
Pazy, that looked just like Ragu. Yes, Pazy, is Ragu in Russian.
We were thrilled and very proud of ourselves to have found a jar of
Ragu in Kazakhstan. Big D cooked it up that afternoon, and we're
sorry to report that it was not the real deal. It tasted like a
cross between ketchup and mild salsa.

We've noticed that the only section of the grocery store
with shelf after shelf of selection and variety is the alcohol
section. It's crazy. No instant cocoa for miles in either direction,
but 30 kinds of vodka.

I'm sure there will be more later.

I am blessed! and Bid D (yearning for some Tex Mex)


  1. those food stories are crazy! was literally "laughing out loud". I would love to hear more posts on your adoption. An area my husband and I often discuss, yet become discouraged too easily.

  2. We were there almost a month, so I have lots of funny stories from our trip to Kazakhstan. You think you'll never forget, but you do. I'm so glad I've been re-living them. I wasn't able to fully appreciate the humor at the time, but now I can:)

  3. I love ketchup on my spaghetti!!!! We would love to adopt but need to get our house/finances in order before we could be approved. So many dear ones in need of families!

    Thanks for your prayers by the way!

    Putting your button up tonight too!

  4. Then maybe Kaz is the place for you :) Thanks for putting my button up! You've got an incredible blog with a great following!



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.