from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. The fermented milk of a mare or camel, used as a beverage by certain peoples of western and central Asia.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. Alternative spelling of koumiss.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A common beverage of the nomads of northern Asia, consisting of fermented mares' milk, resembling sour buttermilk, but clear and free from greasiness. The Kirghiz and others distil an intoxicating liquor from it.
- n. A fermented dietetic and sanitary drink made in western countries, in imitation of the preceding, from cows' milk with sugar and yeast, and allowed to ferment until it becomes effervescent and slightly alcoholic.
They drink a beverage called kumiss, which is fermented mare's milk.
And at some point after that, they started regularly collecting the milk and using it, either to feed motherless children, or to process it into yogurt, kumiss, kefir, and other milk products.
As no-one knew the etymology of the old name, Pishpek, they chose a new one, the nearest word phonetically in Kyrgyz: bishkek, which means "kumiss-whisk".
It turned out that the etymology of the indigenous name Pishpek was unknown; the nearest Kyrgyz word was bishkek 'whisk with which kumiss is stirred.'
It says the name goes back to a term meaning 'place below the mountains', which popular etymology or eggcornism converted into the word for a kumiss 'churn'.
After a brief post focusing on a recipe for kumiss (which is what you make with a bishkek), he quoted a series of passages from Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow (a wonderful book, which these tastes make me want to reread) dealing with the "mad scavenger" Tchitcherine, sent to Seven Rivers country (south of Lake Balkhash: Semirechye in Russian, Zhetysu in Kazakh) "to give the tribesmen out here, this far out, an alphabet."
It was the women who prepared kumiss, and they also made cheese.
The mares were milked, and from the milk kumiss was made.
Then they began drinking kumiss again, and offered Pahom some tea, but he would not wait.
They talked a while, and after drinking some more kumiss and eating some more mutton, they had tea again, and then the night came on.