Dispatches from the Himalayas – Chang Beer


changChang (sometimes spelled chhaang) is a Tibetan beer made from fermented rice and is rumored to be a favorite of the Yeti (abominable snowman) who ransacked remote mountain villages in search of the quaff. And it tastes much better than it sounds.

Actually brewed from a combination of barley, millet and/or rice – whatever is in season and available  with the addition of a yeast cake, Chang is enjoyed by young and old alike and is especially popular during the celebration of Losar, the Tibetan New Year.


My companion ordered Chang to accompany a traditional Tibetan meal in the city of Pohkara. It was frosty cold and milky white, almost opalescent and lightly carbonated. It tasted more like a sake than a beer, but it was totally light and refreshing – just the thing to offset the panoply of chilies and spices  that were to follow.

Chang is reportedly easy to make at home, but I haven’t tried it— yet.







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I have been eating since the day I was born – born into the wrong family. Don’t get me wrong, they are lovely people (most of them anyway) but for many of my relatives, seafood came breaded in a box, succotash was considered a vegetable, garlic came granulated in a small glass jar with salt added and bagels came in a plastic sleeve in the frozen food section. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. I knew for sure that something was wrong when I asked my Mom if we had any olive oil and she said “Sure do. It’s that liquid in the jar with the olives.” I had to get out. Arriving in New York for college, I began to realize what I had known all along. Fish have heads and tails! Coffee can be freshly ground (not instant)! Garlic is a bulb – a member of the onion family and comes in several different varieties and pungencies! And Lender’s bagels are not bagels, but merely round bread. Don’t get me started with kim chee, ceviche and charcuterie. Revelation accomplished. Today I live in Scarborough N.Y.and South Kingstown, R.I.with my husband Paul Mazzilli and too many cats. We have two grown children who began their lives eating only "beige food" but have since evolved. We are proud of them.

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