During the Queen’s funeral yesterday, Yeshi wondered all the time when people were getting a chance to eat. It was a long day, and food was conspicuous by its absence. How was everyone getting through the day? Did they all manage a snack in the car at least?
In Tibet, when somebody dies, food plays a central part in the proceedings. The deceased usually lies at home for about four days after death – this allows time for their spirit or consciousness to separate from the body, a key component of reincarnation. During this period the body of the person who has died is offered food and drink at every mealtime alongside relatives and visiting guests. Neighbours step in to provide all the meals: a bereaved family must be nourished well.
Burials take various forms in Tibet, but there is very little attachment to the actual body after death. In fact, in order for a person’s soul to have an easy transition into their next life, Tibetans believe that there should be no trace left of the physical form.
In the many rocky, mountainous parts of Tibet, where wood is scarce and the ground is hard with frost, cremation and internments are rare. The most common burial method is the “sky burial”. A so-called “body-breaker” cuts the corpse into pieces and leaves it on a high, isolated rock as a food offering to vultures. This takes care of the flesh and organs of the deceased. Any remaining bones are smashed and mixed with tsampa (roasted barley flour) and butter. In this way, the vultures are able to consume the whole body.
When I first learned about Tibetan sky burials the idea seemed very brutal to me. But when Yeshi explained it as a final, ultimate act of giving, and one that has very little, if no environmental impact, it started to make a lot more sense. And more than this – in the traditional western method of internment, the corpse is eaten by insects or maggots anyway. Vultures live far longer, making them arguably worthier recipients of our feed.
So much food for thought.
Now that the period of national mourning is over, we are going big guns this week with a Momo Party. Join us on Saturday 24th September 12-10pm for momos on the pan – festival style – and beer on tap from Earth Ale, the new local brewery who will be in the house with seasonal, limited-batch ales for your tasting and pleasure.
Here are our full opening hours this week:
Wednesday: 5-9.30pm (dinner only)
Thursday & Friday: 12-3 (lunch) / 5-9.30pm (dinner)
Saturday: Taste Tibet/Earth Ale Momo Party! 12-10pm
Come for dine in, take away or some great deals on our freezer food. This week’s menu is live on the website now.
Looking forward to seeing you soon!
Julie and Yeshi
Opening hours this week:
Thurs – Fri: 12-3pm 🥢 5-9.30pm
☏ 01865 499318