Bukhara: "White Apricots"
June 2, 2009
Dear Family and Friends,
"How's the food over there?" you ask.
Here's today's menu:
Breakfast at the Komil Hotel: cherry, apple or apricot juice, raisins, almonds, peanuts, chocolate, fresh apricots and cherries, omelet, slices of cheese, rolls, butter, honey and home-made preserves, coffee or green tea - the national beverage.
Alfresco Lunch today in Nurata: cold salty yogurt soup with scallions, tomato and cucumber salad, bread, and tender, tasty chucks of grilled spicy lamb with onions, green tea.
Alfresco Dinner at the Lyabi-Hauz: noodle soup with small balls of minced lamb, bread, and mimosa salad that includes layers of sliced fish, chopped egg, chopped cabbage, mixed greens with a light mayonnaise dressing.
Sandwiched between my meals were several worthy sights;
The Vobkent Minaret (1198) is on the tentative UNESCO World Heritage list. The dramatic, banded column is 42.6 m high (140 ft) and 6.1 m (20 ft) in diameter and is almost completely preserved. Vobkent is a quiet town now, but was an important stop on the Great Silk Road.
In the city of Gijduvan , the Narzullaev family dynasty is now in its sixth generation of master potters. The family maintains a museum of the polychrome terra cotta ceramics and an adjacent shop. Hillary Clinton, Prince Charles and Madeleine Albright have visited and were presented with lovely platters and bowls. Me? They sold me a few and then served tea.
It was a long ride but who could resist visiting the old fortress of Alexander the Great. After lunch, I climbed the sandy hillside to visit the almost non-existent remains of the fortress (c. 328 BCE). In the hot sun, I stood where Alexander stood and saw what Alexander conquered - flat green farmland and desert landscape for as far as the eye can see in all directions.
Riding back, my driver stopped at a roadside stand to buy some fruit. I had a taste. It was the best meal of the day.
White apricots. Not a meal really, just a snack. Fresh picked. Firm. Pale yellow skin. The juice ran down my chin. The sweetest piece of fruit I have had in ages. Alexander never had better. I bought a kilo (2.2lbs).
Apricot snack now. Later, the dessert after my soup and mimosa salad.
Food's good here.