Mongol Vegetable Cutting – Kazan, Russia

This is an excerpt from the book Sports the Olympics Forgot

The first contest in 1263 was held amongst the citizens of Kazan. In turn, each contestant had to ride up to the table on their own horse and slice ten beetroot and ten potatoes in half making sure that their steed was always moving in a forwards direction. The results of the first few contests have been lost but the winner in 1273 was Alexis Yashin who not only sliced all the vegetables in half but did so the most accurately according to the Slicing Judges.

The contest was made more difficult in 1309 when a second table of vegetables was introduced meaning that 20 beetroots and 20 potatoes had to be sliced. In 1458 carrots and courgettes were added in a second contest where the winner was the person who cut the carrot and courgettes into the most separate pieces. In 1684 cucumbers and tomatoes were added in a third contest where not only did the vegetables have to be cut from top to bottom but also lengthwise too. These extra contests still required the cutter to be riding a horse.

In 1923 the judges decided that a precision element should be introduced into the contest so peas and red beans were added. Again riding a horse the contestants had to split the ten peas and ten red beans into two separate pieces with their swords.

By now the Kazan contest was known throughout the world and was popular with chefs who were keen to gain extra publicity for their food preparation exploits. One particular 3-star Michelin restaurant chef holds the record for cutting a courgette into 45 separate pieces while riding a horse. Unfortunately he was disqualified because he used his own brand of kitchen knife and not the Mongol sword as stipulated in the rules.

In 1987 fruit were added into the festival beginning with apples, pears, and bananas. 50 Apples and 50 pears had to be sliced into four separate pieces and thirty bananas into at least six. For the fruit contests a timing element was introduced as the fruit were laid out on a table fifty yards long and the contestants were allowed to stop their horse if necessary, but not to dismount.

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