Culture Bites

As part of the Health Education projects, CDI staff does follow up home visits after seminars. This gives us a chance to meet people in their homes and ask how they are implementing what they learned from our lessons.

Kyrgyz culture is very hospitable, so we are never allowed to leave without eating something and we are often invited to lunch.

Before entering the house a young boy pours water over our hands and gives us a towel to dry them. We enter the living room where a table is already covered with food. Surrounding the table are floor mats called tushuks for sitting The older, more respected guests sit on the end furthest from the door; the hosts and young people stay close to the entrance so they can easily fetch food and tea.

Round loaves of bread, called naan, are the staple and centerpiece of the meal. Between each person is a plate of salad and a dish of nuts, candy and dried fruit. As we sit down the hostess pours each person a cup of tea and passes it with her right hand.

After chatting and sampling the goodies for a while, the main dish is brought in. Usually when people are entertaining guests they cook osh: rice fried with carrots, onions and meat. Several of us eat off of one plate, adding salad with our spoons and eating it together with the osh. There’s no room for dieting here- if we slow down or stop eating we are immediately told to “Eat! Eat! You’re too skinny! Have some more! Do you have tea? Why aren’t you eating?” This while they break off chunks of naan for us and call the young girls to bring more tea.

For dessert our host slices up a ruby watermelon grown right in their village. We sit sipping tea and politely refusing (for the third time!) offers of more food. Kyrgyz hospitality has done it again- we can’t hold another bite.