We Are What We Eat: Afghanistan | Nat Geo Live

We Are What We Eat: Afghanistan | Nat Geo Live

( intro music ) ( audience applause ) Hello everybody. Thank you for coming.The story I’ll tell you tonight.
What is that story?
Well, it’s about the
evolution of diet.
About our ancestral ties
to the food we eat.
And it’s easier said
than done because
trying to find
places in the world where market food is
not affecting our way of eating is
quite difficult.So, Afghanistan…
when you look at the map
there is an area that was
never touched by war.
It’s called the
Wakhan Corridor.
And at the end of it
is a high altitude
plateau that is very
difficult to reach.
On this plateau there is Kyrgyz
community of about 1,500 people
living at 14,000 feet,
all year round.
You might as well
be on the moon.
You know you are way
above tree line
Nothing grows except grass
and two tiny things
in summer for about a
month-month and a half.
You will get rhubarb
and white onions.
If you are vegetarian,
it will be a slow death. ( audience laughter )And so grass feeds
the animal,
the Kyrgyz are
pastoralist nomads.
So they have yaks,
they have goat,
they have sheep,
they are pastoralists.
They live off their herds.This is what makes them survivein this desert
like environment.
Of course milk is a big
part of their diet
Any dairies and a lot of side
product as well from milk.
They have a great
intimacy with the
animal world that
really touched me.
They even talk to each other
in the way they would talk
to their horses. It was quite
surprising at first when people whistle
to call for my attention I was,
“hey, I am not your horse” but that’s how it is. Such an intimacy
that if you wantyou can even go and
check your camel’s teeth.
( audience laughter )It was a little,
young camel who was
nibbling on everything
he could see.
Quite lovely.Division of labor is often,the young boys will
learn how to
herd the yaks with slingshot.You see he is holding
a slingshot.
You just whip away and
scare off the yaks.
The girls go and get water
or milk the animal.
Getting water is not simple.You don’t turn on the
faucet there.
These are three daughters
of the Hun,
the tribal chief of that
community of people.
And they go up in the morning,
at you know, quite early morning
and they are going
to get water.
And getting water
means breaking ice,
finding the place
where the spring was
breaking the ice,
getting water,
bringing it back to camp.Meaning going back
to the “yurt”.
The yurt is like the
quintessential nomadic habitat.
It’s made of felt, so it
comes out of the animal.
Outside it’s very barren
and you enter this yurts
and it’s just full of colors.It’s really impressive,
the contrast
between this outside
and this inside.
And so you make tea.
You make tea with milk
and with milk you
often boil it in
this big pots you
can see here.
She’s straining the milk
into the pot.
She’s going to boil it
on slow fire over dung fire usually
because nothing grows there so they use dry dung to cook.And then you’ll get this
kind of curd.
And they let it dry on
the roof of the yurts or
sometime on this rattan
things outside
and it will become
hard as stone,
like real stone.
It’s not an expression
hard as stone.
You need another
stone to break it. And this milk, this… “Kurut”, it’s called,
will be used in winter when the animals don’t
give so much milk.They also make butter
that they some time
keep in the stomach
of a sheep.
It preserves really well
and it’s easy to transport
and it’s very highly prized
in that part of the world.
So that would be
your typical meal.
Slices of butter,
milk tea with
salt in it often
and then “naan”.
Naan is the flat
bread you see here.
So then you tell me,
“where the hell do they get flour to
make naan?” I say, “hold on, I’ll show you.” So it’s easy– ( audience laughter ) It’s very easy.
You go down to your
Whole Foods store, the organic one,
you know. Seriously.So you get on yaks,you bring all your friends,
you get a bunch of guys
pile up the yak with stuff,
you take some
extra yaks and you
go for long walk.
Two times in winter,
in summer maybe
two-three times
and you go down.
In winter it means going
over a frozen river.
That’s the only way
in and out of the
high altitude plateau
where they live.
In 2008, when I went in
winter the place had not been visited by a
foreigner since 37 years. The last time people
were there… foreigners, was in 1972. That’s how remote
that place is.You sleep on your
way in camps or in
shepherd huts or in
caves like this.
And then you might drop
your iPhone in a cave.
( audience laughter )He was looking for water,
didn’t get any.
We melted snow and
make some tea.
You change your yak.
So, you go with 20 yaks,
you’d come back
with 15, for example.You trade, you barter your
five yaks for flour,
for cigarettes, for matches,
for candies whatever mostly flour and then you
load it back up and go back.Look at that how
much work that is
just to get flour
for your community.
It’s a harsh environment.This girl just walked in
after herding her animals
her cheeks are burned
by the cold,
it’s not make up.
They use everything
on the animal.
You kill the goat, you gather
the blood that you might cook
And you eat
absolutely everything
you singe the head on fire,
you’ll boil the head.
You know,
apart from the horns you’ll
empty the bones
to eat the marrow then you throw it
out and the dogs around camp will
finish this thing. So there is no waste,
you can’t afford waste. Then you get presented
as a guest withthis beautiful
platter right here.
And if you’re a knowledgeable
guest you know that
what you’re going to get
is right in the middle.
You see that white area,
they really go for the fat.
The fat is highly prized.
It’s the glory of the shepherd.
He brought his herd
to the best-fed
grass to get this
very fat tail mutton.
These are called
fat tail mutton.
You learn to love that.You know, sure they have to
exercise themselves so much it’s such a cold environment,
it’s a totally logical thing.So there I am with
my red jacket
trying to gulp down an eye of
a goat, I think they gave me.
That gave me my nickname
when I was there. I was calledKoz Jede
which means eye-eater. But they would– the kids
would be really scared when the older one
would be like, “hey, watch out this eye-eater
is coming over there.” ( audience laughter )So, you know, this is
tea time among Kyrgyz.
You walk out and
the girls are just munching on what’s
left over from lunch. They love meat. ( speaking in Kyrgyz ) ( whistling ) ( sound of wind blowing ) ( sheep bleating ) ( elderly woman
singing in Kyrgyz ) ( sound of water flowing ) ( speaking in Kyrgyz )

100 thoughts on “We Are What We Eat: Afghanistan | Nat Geo Live

  1. Lovely story I really loved it all…..the beautiful gentle animals, the wonder of the people!!!!!I will watch Matthieu Paley anytime and all times but no bell?? Merci Matthieu, ana maria .. VIVA AFGHANISTAN!!

  2. Woww the children are so cute. Their faces are like combination of mongol n uzbek or i dont know.. But yeah it seems so peaceful living there..

  3. What a wretched lifestyle with no respect for animals. Mind, you they've little respect for children either because they marry them off children to adult men at a very young age who then race them. We call that child abuse in the west, but hey… let's not let that get in he way of a fairytale narrative. This is why I gave up on NG. I realised when I was 15 that it was all 'cleasned'' fairy stories for a western middle class consumption and curiosity.

  4. I think,believe & would love to lead such life.
    CUT OFF from greed,politics,caste-ism, any kind of discrimination.


  5. Good point no mater how bad is your situation u re better off than bilion of people that s why lam allways thinkig GOD for what l have and dont care much about what l dont have being a human alone is a huge blessing thank u GOD the Mercifull thank u GOD the just Thank u GOD the Patien

  6. These are Kyrgyz people . They immigrated from Kyrgyzstan during 1917 Russian revolution. At that time Central Asia was part of Russian Empire.

  7. These people might not be Kyrgyz, they are possibly Khazar people who are discriminated in Afghanistan Pashtoons who are radicals.

  8. Maybe a part of Afghanistan but these people are obviously a different race > closer to Siberian eskimo people!

  9. So make sense if these innocent peoples invaded by outsider then raise their weapon to protect their homeland. They called as terorrist by US and their allies but for me they are true heroes. Much love from Indonesia.

  10. if nuclear war happen.. these people start the new civilisation again….no one waste a million dollar bomb, to kill just six people

  11. Their way of life and material culture is just like the Himalayan Highlander of India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan.

  12. Many fortunate native countries Has the blessing of eat sing, together as A family ( big cities, we have the blessing Of radiation, pollution, Out of No normal laves of Noise, Worries, to pay the bill and all the distraction ) wishing not to conquer Them. forest, rivers. Native people, Languages. Ancient cultures .

  13. 6:40 – Please explain the binder clips which she uses to hold her head gear/ scarf in place. How many clips do you get for one yak?

  14. I was in Afghanistan in 74. It was the worst food in the world. 'You are what you eat and you end up dead meat.' A once Buddhist country forcibly converted to Islam this video glamourises a truly awful country. The fat tailed sheep referred to are common to Africa.

  15. Afghanistan is place of sacrifices,bravery,kindness….
    We are happy to have such a friend ….
    Love from India…❤️

  16. No divorce no bills no drama no police no feminism no cancer no taxes no banking system what could go wrong?

  17. Now, herds of stupid tourists will visit this place in the name of adventure tourism and they will turn this place into trash.

  18. Best people in the world live here, but because of its important Geo strategic location, many world powers tried to destroy and corrupt the people and the culture by distributing guns, arms and extreme ideologies.

  19. If they were never invaded then they must have following nature religion only , no religion i guess there ??

  20. please dont destroy them with your US democracy and human rights. they live really good and they don't need freedom of speech!!!!!

  21. Love the video, but this is not an accurate representation of Afghan food. That is the dietary necessity of 1,200 people in a land of 55million

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