Monday Meal Review: Tajikistan

It is often said that family who live in close proximity take each other for granted. But in many ways, I think it’s just as easy to take each other for granted when family is scattered around the country.

We get used to a certain state of … loneliness… of missing each other. We resign ourselves to the distance, and take for granted that it can be no other way than to be apart.

Ava

It got so bad, for me, that I hid behind my work and responsibilities. I didn’t take trips, not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t know how to leave. I didn’t know how to shut off the flow of work and make time.

The result? Until this week, I hadn’t seen my family in over a year. Fifteen months to be exact. Some of them I hadn’t seen in more than three years.

ava and mom

I’d resigned myself to being too far to help, too far to matter, too far to influence.

When my sister announced she was throwing a graduation party for her daughter, Amanda (who was graduating college), and her son, Donovan (who was graduating high school), she created the perfect scenario to bring us all together. We came from all over the country.  We even got to celebrate with my brother, Chris’ daughter Ashley, who was also graduating high school.

Thank goodness; we need celebrations; they are the shoestrings that pull us together.

famiy

Everyone looked the same, but different, too. The passing years will do that. For the older ones, another wrinkle, some white hairs, a balding patch, a little less energy. For the younger ones, they were no longer filled with the bouncy energy of the tween years. These once “children” stretched lean and serene into the arms of boyfriends, or perhaps a cocktail.

These changes alarmed me. I couldn’t believe how much time is slipping us by, every moment, floating irrevocably under the bridge of life, while I sit, far from those I love.

I don’t have a solution, and perhaps there is none to be found, but – now, as I sit between tornado warnings – I wanted to share my heartbreak, my homesickness, the love I have for my family, no matter how far flung we are. And perhaps that’s enough. To express the love, to keep it alive.

How do you stay connected with your family? Are you far apart, or near? How do you deal with the distance (or lack thereof?)

elisa and sasha

THE FOOD

Lamb Plov with Dried Apricots & Raisins [Recipe]

tajikistan.food.recipe.img_0546

What I loved most about this dish:

This seems to be a universally appealing rice dish; the lamb soaks into the grains, giving each mouthful a rich, hearty flavor, while the raisins and apricots give lovely bursts of sweetness.  I’m slowly seeing that the best way to feed a crowd is with a dish like plov; since there are no individual dishes, the cleanup is almost nil.

What I loved least about this dish:

Nothing, although I will say to watch the cooking of the rice. You don’t want to overdo it and end up with mushy grains. Keep the heat low to avoid such issues.

Yogurt Naan/Non [Recipe]

tajikistan.food.recipe.img_0710

What I loved most about this dish:

The flavor of this yogurt/wheat naan is wonderful; everyone enjoyed it, even those that I overcooked. We particularly had fun decorating them with the forks.

What I loved least about this dish:

I still haven’t figured out how to get the designs to show up perfectly – this will take trial and error, I imagine.

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Comments

  1. Cynthia says:

    For years we have been within a 3-5 hours’ drive from each other. Family gatherings were able to happen fairly frequently, planned for the convenience and enjoyment of everyone. Now the youngest generation is moving about and having children. On the other end of the spectrum, our parents are finding it difficult to travel to see grandchildren and great grandchildren. The further distances are making it harder to see everyone. To bridge the gap we Skype, do whole family emails, call each other on our cells while out for a daily walk, and play Words with Friends across the generations. We have found that we have to be flexible, creative, and communicate our needs clearly as lives and ages change. We will gather this summer as 4 generations to celebrate our mother’s 90th birthday.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      The whole family emails is a great idea… and I suppose Facebook is a huge help, too. The distance feels much smaller, though nothing can quite replace seeing each other in person!

  2. elisa waller says:

    that was so fun..and funny…..it was super duper fun too see us all together..I just finished all the leftovers..yummy in my tummy! ANd that naan is awesome… thank you sis for being so cool and eloquent and global! haha xo <3

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Lucky you, with all the leftovers – yummy :) I’ve been craving it since we left. Thanks for being a great hostess and sister. I love you!

  3. Another beautiful post! and it hit “home” with me ;) I’ve been in the US now for almost 11 years as the only one out of my family – everyone else is back home in Germany. And it’s true what you say that you just get used to the state of separation… the first few years were very hard and heart breaking, but by now I’m “used” to always carrying a bit of heartache around with me…. we speak on the phone every week and skype, but especially with my kids being little now I wish there were more casual “just because” meetings… *sigh* now I’m homesick ;) let me go adn cook something :)

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Isn’t it funny how cooking helps quell the homesickness a bit? I hope you get to see them soon … big hugs!

  4. Beautifully written! We’re scattered across the U.S. as well and see each other no more than once or twice a year. It’s HARD. One tradition we started 10 years ago was to meet at a state park and rent cabins for a week. We can only afford to do this once every 2 years, but it’s the one time all the generations get together. It’s incredibly special to all of us. In fact, we leave Friday for this precious trip, and I’m proud of us all for keeping it up. As kids get older and life gets busier, it’s hard to do, but what’s more important than family?

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