I just got back from Tajikistan, the poorest and smallest of the ex-Soviet Central Asian Republics, where we are looking for ways to conserve agro-biodiversity in the face of climate change. The country is a center of origin and hugely diverse in terms fruit (e.g., figs, pomegranates, apricots, peaches, pears, apples, plums, persimmons, grapes, and more), melons (so much better than any I've ever tasted!), nuts (almonds, pistachio, walnut, more), vegetables (the tomatoes and cucumbers are small, succulent, firm, and flavor bound--perhaps more so than any hierloom of famers' market in the US), forages, ornamental plants, and basic food grains both traditional and from the Soviet time(wheat, barley, rye, others).
The food was GREAT, albeit not complex in terms of preparation. Most meals have: a huge platter of fantastic fruit (melons, pears, apples, grapes, plums, peaches, and more) and nuts (boiled walnut, pistacio, almond); great delicious full flat breads; plates of salad of the most super sliced tomatoes and cucumbers with chiles, flat leaf parsley, some lettuce/spinach leaves, dill, basil (including aurple much like Lao - Thai), and mint; soup; and meats such as ground meat kabobs, goat ribs, beef organ mixes, mutton, and lamb—and possibly fish; and local foods such as sweet (naturally) mulberry flower, mulberry molasses, local honey, boiled walnuts, almond pits (somehow!), and fantastically on and on!!!
The agricultural landscape was much like that of the Central Valley of California – 100 years ago!
Shown are (probably not happening): a) the starters for a meal under a tree and across from the Tajikistan – Afghanistan border; b) a look across at Afghanistan; and c) part of a fancier Sunday meal of trout with the fruit, the salad, and bread close-by.
A striking contrast to Peru and to Washington, DC, for those of you who connected to a couple of my past posts