The food in this part of the world is unique, not just the recipes but also the ingredients.
The Silk Road was the melting pot of eastern and western cultures so it’s only to be expected that their cuisines also amalgamated to create something distinctive.
Lagma, a dish of noodles and meat, really begs the question as to where Spaghetti Bolognese came from and did pasta come from the east or west?
We ate dumplings that looked more like ravioli and Plov that’t somewhere between fried rice and Risotto.
The vegetables, herbs and spices combine to reward the palate in a way that I have not experienced before.
I am sure that this comes down to the fact that most of the food here, especially in the country areas, is unspoiled by herbicides, pesticides and other man made interventions.
We have been to countless markets and been overwhelmed by the aromas of the spice stalls and the faultless fruits and vegetables.
This perfect storm of taste and aesthetics results in meals that are both simple and remarkable in their delivery.
Their salads have been influenced by Chinese, Korean, Russian and European cuisines, yet they are nothing like you would find in Shanghai, Seoul, Moscow or Madrid.
The tomatoes are deep red and so full of flavor that all you need is a touch of salt and a drop of oil to create a mouth watering delight.
We were told by our guide in Khiva that it’s due to the high salt content of the soil that the Uzbek tomatoes are so sweet and flavorsome.
The herbs come fresh from the market, where they are expertly blended by the stall holders to your exact requirements.
Fruits, both fresh and dried, are in abundance.
Sultanas, apricots, raisins, melons, plums, figs, dates, pomegranates and berries are piled high in the market stalls. The vendors are very happy for you to try whatever you like and rarely pressure you to buy.
We were offered walnuts straight from the tree and strawberries fresh from the field.
The delightful result of this bountiful harvest ends up in the local restaurants, so you don’t just get to see and smell it in the markets, you get to taste it on your plate.