An interesting blog post by Amelia Hanslow, ostensibly about fat-tailed sheep, introduced me to a novel form of butchery.
The reputation of Genghis [Khan’s] army was that they shed the blood of humans more readily than they did of sheep. Now, here’s the interesting bit: that’s true, because traditional slaughter of sheep involved (and still does in Central Asia) making a small incision in the sheep’s chest, and reaching in to stop the heart with your hand (or pinch the aorta more specifically). Ideally, no blood is shed on the ground so that it is all saved for food.
Now admittedly I was in an impressionable state, having just enjoyed the rare treat of an episode of Game of Thrones, but this struck me as further confirmation that the Dothraki are essentially a Mongol horde. Anyway, it became necessary for me to suggest this sheep-slaughtering technique to Luigi, who promptly informed me that it is called khoj özeeri. And, just as “there is no word for thank-you in Dothraki” (sic), so too there is obviously no word in English for khoj özeeri. Perhaps there should be. Here’s what Luigi’s source has to say on the subject:
If slaughtering livestock can be seen as part of humans’ closeness to animals, khoj özeeri represents an unusually intimate version. Reaching through an incision in the sheep’s hide, the slaughterer severs a vital artery with his fingers, allowing the animal to quickly slip away without alarm, so peacefully that one must check its eyes to see if it is dead. In the language of the Tuvan people, khoj özeeri means not only slaughter but also kindness, humaneness, a ceremony by which a family can kill, skin, and butcher a sheep, salting its hide and preparing its meat and making sausage with the saved blood and cleansed entrails so neatly that the whole thing can be accomplished in two hours (as the Mongushes did this morning) in one’s good clothes without spilling a drop of blood. Khoj özeeri implies a relationship to animals that is also a measure of a people’s character. As one of the students explained, “If a Tuvan killed an animal the way they do in other places”—by means of a gun or knife—“they’d be arrested for brutality.”
Do we, in English, have any way of differentiating a “good” slaughter from a bad one? I can’t think of one.
And isn’t it amazing, how one’s mind latches onto the strangest things, allowing the internet to extend one’s memory?