In recent times, Tashkent tourism has acquired a negative tinge with its wild nightlife and sex tourism, especially with visitors from the subcontinent. But very few visitors have access to the deep rooted Uzbek culture that the natives adhere to.
Eating out in Tashkent is paradise for the palette, even better if u can manage to get invited to a traditional meal at an Uzbek household. Here is a list of authentic food culture and dining etiquette, in case you get lucky!
1. Meals are usually served either on the floor, or on a low table, high tables are uncommon. The table is always covered by a dusterhon (traditional Uzbek tablecloth), which is elevated to iconic status here. Objects such as shopping bags, which are considered unclean, never should be placed on the dusterhon, nor should anyone ever step on or pass dirty items over it. The main room of the house is centered around the dusterhon.
2. Guests sit on carpets, padded quilts, chairs, or beds, but never on pillows. Men usually sit cross-legged, women with their legs to one side. The most respected guests sit away from the entrance.
3. Uzbek culture holds bread very high in the food triangle. At mealtime, bread will be spread to cover the entire dusterhon. It is always torn by hand, never placed upside down, and never thrown out.
4. Meals generally kick off with small dishes of nuts and raisins, progressing through soups, salads, and meat dishes and ending with palov, a rice-and-meat dish synonymous with Uzbek cuisine; it is the only dish often cooked by men. Normally, women are in charge of the kitchen. The favoured meat is mutton. Pork is condemned even by the non-religious and quite difficult to come by.
5. Other common dishes, though not strictly Uzbek, include monti, steamed dumplings of lamb meat and fat, onions, and pumpkin, and kabob, grilled ground meat.
6. Tea, usually green, is the preferred beverage of choice. It is drunk throughout the day, accompanied by snacks, and is always offered to guests. The choyhona, or teahouse, is the focal point of the neighborhood’s men. It is always shaded, and if possible located near a stream.
7. Because of their climate, Uzbeks enjoy many types of fruits, eaten fresh in summer and dried in winter, and vegetables. Dairy products such as katyk, a liquid yogurt, and suzma, similar to cottage cheese, are eaten plain or used as ingredients.
8. Plates are cleared after every course, especially when guests are over. Food is eaten with fingers with the exception of soups.
The best time to visit Tashkent is during April-May and September-October.
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