Marco! Polo! Marco! Polo!
Not just a refrain in a swimming pool game—he begins to appear in the pages of Part III. He’s traveling some of the very routes that the Mongols have set up for their trade routes.
I’ll bet you wish that the map above had little dotted line trails of Marco Polo’s travels, but it doesn’t. I just started this part of the blog with that map to cheer you up.
Did I tell you that Kubilai Khan got into China in a big way, and that includes the city of what is now Beijing? If you don’t remember anything else, remember that ALL of China fell under his rule.
He tried to get into Japan, too. As usual, he started off by sending an envoy to request early submission. But the Japanese chopped off their heads. That got the Khan’s goat and he surged into battle against Japan. But water battles with ships weren’t as successful as the old comfy way of battles on horseback. The Khan was repulsed, and Japan remained independent.
By 1293 the Mongol territory limits were set to, but not including, Poland, Egypt, Java and Japan.
Things quieted down for the next century or so. One of the Khan’s favorite activities was hunting. Huge hunting parties were arranged, with the animals just about trapped and ready for shooting, and after the “hunt” impossibly grand celebrations were held.
Recipes of some of the dishes served to the Kubilai Khan during these celebrations still survive. (Mr. Weatherford doesn’t share any.)
There was a variety of foods, but with an emphasis on meat and dairy products.
One might choose from:
—strips of mutton tail fat dusted with flour and baked with leeks
—bull testicles fried in hot oil, basted with saffron paste, and sprinkled with coriander
—mutton boiled with cardamom and cinnamon; rice and chickpeas
—young eggplant stuffed with chopped mutton, fat, yogurt, orange peel and basil
Sound good? Well, you can try them yourselves—-just Google “Genghis Grill” to see where your nearest location is. I’m not kidding!
There is a hangover recipe, too, but you’ll have to read the book for that one.
Frankly, aside from the menus, Part III is beginning to drag. Looks like the 13th Century is going to be pretty quiet, with Mongol excitement diminishing, and maybe Mr. Weatherfold could have wrapped up the book with Part II and a dandy epilogue about all the accomplishments of peacetime Mongol leadership.
And there were, indeed, accomplishments. Why, the establishment of the ortoo or yam alone —that’s the beginning of the postal system–same one we have now only theirs was more efficient, is noteworthy.
And there was a need for a calendar, a real numerical system—and the movable alphabet! It goes on and on. (So go ahead and skip ahead.)
So, here we are together on page 234. Not that far to page 271. Aaargh!
Look again at the map. Aaargh!