post-soviet bread. &, thank god it’s summer

Thank god it’s summer. It was actually chilly on the beach today. Certainly not the 95 of the city. The water is freezing. It seems way colder than usual for this time of year. But even the beach was windy and cool. Georgian Bread (Грузинский Xлеб) is open til 9p now, which is the best news I’ve heard all week. The only tone (pronounced toe-nay) oven the city over.

In Uzbekistan they’re called tandoor ovens, and before you assume they stole it from India, keep in mind that Zahir-ud-din Muhammad, generally known as Babur, father of the Mughal Empire, was from the Ferghana Valley of now Uzbekistan. There’s an amazing Uighur noodle shop just next to a little park with a statue of him in his birthplace, Andijan. (Also home to Dilshod, but that’s another sad story.) Babur’s father was a descendant of Emir Timur, better known in the West as Tamerlane, and his mother a descendant of Mongol Genghis Khan.

Though now totally associated with the South Asian Empire, Mughal is from the Persian for Mongol, as Babur was of Mongol stock. He spoke and wrote in Chagatai, a now-dead Turkic language once the lingua franca of Central Asia, and the literary language until the 20th Century when the Soviets decided to change things up for the worse.

Babur was into things Persian though, as it was in vogue for the fancy people of Central Asia and “barbaric” Mongol culture was not. When he was expelled from Ferghana after losing a battle to take Samarkand, he went south and took Afghanistan and parts of northern India, founding the Mughal Empire.

Before Genghis’ time, Ferghana was multi-culti. “Zoroastrian temples, Buddhist stupas, Syrian Christian churches, Jewish synagogues, and Muslim mosques in close proximity to one another in most Ferghana cities” (from Ferghana Valley: The Heart of Central Asia edited by S. Frederick Starr, p. xvii).

Anyway, bread. The tandoor oven and Uzbek bread here is from Khiva, in Uzbekistan. And yeah, that Georgian bread is from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn.

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