Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus
In the valley of Uzbekistan’s Zerafshan River, there’s a saying: “In all other parts of the world, light descends upon earth. From holy Samarkand and Bukhara, it ascends.” To visit Samarkand is a historian’s delight. From the sixth to thirteenth centuries, Samarkand was “Asia’s great store window, one of the world’s finest marketplaces, where everything from rare spices to yak-tail fly whisks were bartered and sold.” As an important Silk Road meeting point, no less than seven ethnic groups left their mark on the city – Tajiks, Russians, Turks, Jews, Koreans, Caucasians, and the Uzbeks living there.
Caroline Eden, who authored the travel and food essays, says, “This book is a celebration of the richness and diversity of this remarkable Asian heartland and the culinary heritage of its distinct populations. I discovered that this food culture that straddles many borders is a bit like matryoshka, those brilliantly kitsch Russian dolls. As soon as you unveil one, another presents itself. And at the heart of it all was Samarkand, which has sat at the crossroads of food culture for centuries. As a mere city its location is narrow, but its scope is extraordinarily wide.”
Part travel diary, part cookbook, Samarkand offers a beautiful collection of history, style, and taste. The three recipes by Eleanor Ford presented here – Suzma, Non, and Adjika Meatballs – are a wonderful introduction to the staples of Samarkand.