Life At Point C

Experiencing Life along the Silk Road

Eating in Central Asia, Part 2

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Eating Central Asian Style

A few weeks ago I went to lunch with my coworkers in Karakol. We thought of going to different places but one place had our immediate attention. We decided to go eat near the central bazaar in the center of our town. We had some friends visiting so we decided that this would be a great group lunch. We didn’t expect the place to be so shady. Here is our story.

After a morning of having fun talking and visiting, we decided to walk to lunch. We had approximately 13 people going to the center of town from our language center. It was a nice day for a walk. The sun was warm and there was a pleasant cool breeze in the air. After a half hour of walking, everyone arrived to the center of town and we were ready for lunch. We got some drinks at a local store and headed to the “Ashlam-foo” cafeteria. The place was directly across from the central bazaar. We walked into the large concrete structure. Imagine a large barn made with concrete, rusty old shackles of metal, random pieces of assorted lumber, and steel wires of all sorts holding the place together. It is a place that you would expect to see a Jackie Chan fight sequence. Just absolutely shabby. In this barn/ hangar structure are food vendors. Many ladies selling a wide assortment of local salads and “ashlam-foo.” What is “ashlam-foo”? It is a local cold dish made of noodles, broth, shreds of carrots and a little bit of red pepper. Back to my story. We found one stretch of open counters and sat down to order our lunch. We all ordered the same thing: ashlam-foo and perooshky (a fried bread with potatoes inside). There we sat, in two lines, with bowls of cold noodles and piping hot fried bread. We ate. Then, with much surprise, we all completely devoured our lunch. It was great! This place is the best place in town for this meal. I have had ashlam-foo before, but it had never tasted so magical. We gobbled up our meals and talked and laughed. The whole place was filled with the sound of our excitement. We had not expected to find a place so creepy and yet have great food. This visit to the lunch hangar will not be the only time I’ll eat there. I plan on going there many more times before spring is up.

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