OSH, Kyrgyzstan — I met some Uzbek guys near the main city market here. When they saw my camera, they asked if either my fixer or I spoke Russian. Luckily, my fixer speaks Russian and Uzbek, so we struck up a conversation.
In short order, we were in their car heading up to one of the mahallahs on the outskirts of town. We wound up at a new chaikhana set up after the June Events last year, because many Uzbeks in this part of town could not travel to the main markets and restaurants without getting harassed by the police (police harassment—ethnic Kyrgyz policemen harassing ethnic Uzbek men and women—is a constant theme of my discussions with the Uzbeks here).
So we sat by a gurgling stream, and the staff there went about making a proper Uzbek plov: fried in sheep lard, strewn with pomegranates, served with a small salad of tomatoes and onions, surrounded by apples, persimmons, and grapes, and bread.
It was arguably the most delicious, if greasy, meal I’ve had since coming here. And it’s a perfect way to cap off an otherwise depressing week of hearing about doom and gloom and rape and murder.