I hope you aren’t fed up with all this talk of tasty eats in Kyrgyzstan, because I’ve got a few more wonderful foods to consider before moving on to another topic. However, first – following a rabbit trail into Russian – I personally think it is awesome that Russians also use the expression “fed up.”
One of my favorite things to order in Kyrgyzstan is salad. At most restaurants, salads occupy a large portion of the menu (sometimes multiple pages of the menu), and cost anywhere from $1-5, depending on size and ingredients. Many restaurants have a basic subset of salads, including: “Exotic,” “Fresh,” “Greek,” “Carrot,” and “Olivier” (оливье). In many places, you’ll find things like “The Male Whim,” “The Hunter’s Salad,” and “Savory.”
My personal favorites are just a plain Fresh Salad (which means tomatoes, cucumbers, and olive oil – though be careful, because sometimes they put mayonnaise on instead) or a Greek Salad (which is a Fresh Salad with the addition of Feta cheese, a few black olives, and occasionally some tiny chunks of lemon – a fantastic addition). A plain carrot salad is nice sometimes on a hot afternoon – shredded carrots, garlic, and vinegar. Yum!
Olivier (pronounced with a silent ‘r’, maybe like you’re speaking French) is incredibly popular in Russian-speaking countries, but I just can’t bring myself to love it. Typically, it is diced potatoes, hard-boiled eggs, some snow peas and diced carrots, and ham, plus a lavish helping of mayonnaise. (According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivier_salad, it is popular in Iran, where chicken makes an appearance instead of the ham.) Olivier salad is an indispensible part of New Year’s Eve celebrations.
We were very excited the first time we tried the “Hunter’s Salad” in the village of Cholpon-Ata at the fantastic little restaurant “At the Fisherman’s.” This salad typically consists of a couple kinds of cheese (“hunter’s” and “Holland” in Russian), fresh cucumber, corn, boiled tongue or some good ham, and mayonnaise. I think the times we’ve had it in Kyrgyzstan, maybe it came with the tongue and the ham. Good stuff.
Oddly enough, I’m not sure I’ve ever eaten a “Male Whim” salad, but the recipe, I think, it something that is surely attractive to the (stereo-)typical male. Onions, boiled meat, boiled eggs, cheese, mayonnaise, and some vinegar.