Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Finger Lickin' Goooooood

Eli and I shared a tasty 4-piece friend chicken lunch, with fries, cola, and cole slaw. I have to admit, I was a bit scared to try this place out. After 10 weeks of on and off stomach bugs, I decided it was now or never. Fried chicken, here I come! Jamie advised us to stick with the set meal deals, and to stay away from the burgers--what would you expect from a chain called Southern Fried Chicken? Reviews? This is the best fried chicken you can get in Tajikistan probably, but then again, I've rarely had chicken here--or meat for that matter. It's not quite as yummy as the 11 secret spices that Colonel Sanders has back in the States--but who's complaining?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fruits of Their/My Labor

Sour cherries are on the outs these days, but there are plenty of excellent peaches at the bazaar. It's always a surprise how nice and unblemished they are when I buy them and how I end up mushing them on the busride home. I think, though, that I'm getting better at transporting them. In any case, I don't keep them in their skins for very long. Here's peach cobbler from last night.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Vegan in Tajikistan

We cooked this filling stew of split peas, onions, eggplant, and tomatoes on a wood fire at the campground kitchen. Very nutritious, but without meat, it was hard to get our driver and the Tajik campground workers to eat it. In any case, the dogs probably enjoyed the leftovers!

It Does a Body Good

I spent the weekend at Iskandar Kul, a lake in the Fan Mountains that as the legend goes is the watery grave of one of Alexander the Great's horses. How Alexander the Great could have made it through these mountains with an army is beyond me, but the lake itself is gorgeous and makes a fine destination for anyone looking for respite from the dust and heat of Dushanbe. Besides the lake, there are several snow-fed rivers and springs including some holy ones across the road from the president's vacation home. And with all the water around, there are lots of grassy meadows and more trees than I've seen anywhere else in Tajikistan. Walking in a village above the lake, my friends and I met a guy on a donkey who offered some fresh yoghurt. With nothing else to give in return, I handed him my Nalgene bottle for a drink of water. Sensing that he could trade up, our donkey-riding friend absolutely refused to take his yoghurt back but also wouldn't give back the Nalgene. We were a little pissed, but after swimming in the river and finishing the bottle, we decided that everyone came out ahead.

Eli Food!

I know, I know. It's a crime to eat from a jar when there's such an abundance of delicious and cheap produce. But I can't control my inner Slav when I see things like:

braised cabbage and mushrooms
pickled tomatoes
Crimean Zakuska - eggplants stewed with peppers and carrots

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Vegan, Vegan

We went to Vegan, Vegan to get our first taste of a Brazilian specialty, feijoada. Of course, no self-respecting Brazilian (except our best amigos brasileiros) would admit to eating feijoada without meat . . . and especially without the orange. Our version had smoked tofu, seitan, and shiitake mushrooms among the feijoes, and came with sides of collard greens, brown rice, and farofa (toasted manioc). To accompany our food, I had carrot-passionfruit juice, and Hil had spirulina lemonade - along with some caipirinha light, aka ginger juice. This pic looks like it could be straight from Hil and Eli's table in Providence!


One of the best parts of Rio: daily dose of passion fruit.

Deus é brasileiro!

Santa Marta bakery is just a ten minute walk from Hil's home in Rio. For your convenience, they also provide free home delivery. +55-21-2535-0599.

Pão + Açucar

At the top of Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf Mountain), we enjoyed the view along with a lanche of pão de queijo -- Brazilian cheese puffs -- and doces de verso, the ubiquitous leite condensado with chocolate, covered in chocolate-y cocoa puffs. Gostoso!

Brazilian Sushi

It may not be Sao Paulo (which has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan), but there's delicious Japanese food to be had in Shopping da Gavea. Hil and I shared tasty mushroom yakisoba and a veggie sushi roll at a restaurant called Origami. We also admired, but did not taste, the beautiful fish sushi shown above. Tara, we need you here!


Festa Juninha

I arrived in Rio just in time for the traditional celebration of Festa Juninha, which is a "country-style" party that combines the celebration of many saints whose "birthdays" take place in the month of June. Our favorite new friend Nanda took me to a party featuring lots of food that was all the same color - including: corn bread with coconut, manioc bread with coconut, pao de queijo, candies of leite condensado (condensed milk), cocada (sweeter, heartier maccaroons), and the infamous tube of Moça. Manufactured by Nestle, Moça is a tube of condensed milk that you can squirt onto anything, especially those items already made with condensed milk.


I stayed in Eli and Hilary's apartment a few months back. Who could be uninspired to cook in their wonderful kitchen? Pictured here are corn-blueberry muffins, for which I used up some of the last things left in their freezer.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tuyi Tojiki

My friend Dan Stanley got married last week to the very lovely Tojinisso Rahmonova, who is somehow related to Tajikistan's head honcho, Emomali Rahmon. Unfortunately, family connections didn't allow Dan and Nisso to bend Tajikistan's new law that limits the size of wedding parties to 150 guests in an effort to lessen the country's economic hardships. I checking the guest lists for parties is a bigger priority than say... prosecuting corruption. In Dushanbe, for relatively affluent people, weddings of 400 were not uncommon before the law and for good reasons: people here have huge extended families, wedding parties (along with circumcisions and funerals) are Tajiks' main social events, and since there's no postal service, people extended invitations by word of mouth and planned for a crowd. Now the rule of thumb is stay away. There were probably less than 125 people at the wedding, though scores of Nisso's relatives would have liked to come. In any case, the food was just as lavish as before the new law. Believe it or not, what's on the table is just the first course!

Happiness is a Bowl of Sour Cherries

Some of you have heard already of the greatest feature of my house in Dushanbe. Now you all get to see it! We have two sour cherry trees that were at the peak of ripeness when I arrived a few weeks ago. They've supplied ample fruit for cherry crisps that I've been baking in a relatively dependable electric oven that I've borrowed from the landlady. The cherries have been so juicy that I have to pit them sitting outside on our patio stripped down to my shorts. People here don't bake cherries, but cook them in sugar with their pits intact to make jam or boil them in a large quantity of water with some apples and sugar thrown in to make a refreshing drink. For me, pitting the fruit is a meditative labor of love that borders on obsessive obligation considering how hard it is to find good sour cherries stateside.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Yummy Sauce

I made this yummy sauce a few weeks ago and forgot to post it. It's ground turkey with fennel seed, onion, diced tomato, and some mushrooms. Tasty, but not too summer-y