Monday Meal Review: Kyrgyzstan

THE SCENE: Plain words, big love.

The room is quiet.

I scoop another bite of Oromo into my mouth.

As I chew, I think about how perfectly surprised I am to find myself loving the combination of lamb and soft sweet potatoes. I start to say something about it, but instead catch myself looking at my husband who is happily and ever so quietly eating his meal.

I wonder if he likes it.

“My family is a family of gushers,” I begin, forgetting about the flavor for a moment.  “When a meal is presented everyone ooh’s and ahh’s. Adults trample like children at a fair simply to peer inside a casserole, or to oggle a roast with excitement. Some even applaud.”

Keith laughs. “It’s good, Sash.”

The truth is Keith is reserved – of another culture entirely. Whether presented with epic homemade ravioli, a crazy spiral of oromo, or a store bought peanut butter cup, his response is always the same. It’s good.

He says the words with love and sincerity. Still, when the words come I find myself straining my ears, listening for a slight variation in tone – watching for the flicker of a smile to appear in the corner of his mouth. These are the only ways to determine if the dish du jour is in fact any more or less good than any other.

“And how about that Minty Garlicky Sauce,” I ask, aware that the Mr. Picky in him is nearly guaranteed to hate it.

The silence practically shakes me.

Finally, he looks deep into my eyes and says “I tried it.”

“Now that’s love,” I tell Miss Ava, giving her a little wink.


Stuffed and rolled pasta (Oromo) [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

Coiling up pasta is so obviously fantastic, but I never would have thought of it on my own. Next time I’d like to use more filling for the same amount of pasta and work on getting it even thinner.

What I liked least about this dish:

I had a difficult time knowing when the pasta was cooked enough. The areas in the middle, where the coils touch each other, take the longest. I originally steamed one for 30 minutes and this was nowhere long enough for the pasta.

Hot Lemon Honey with Vodka (for the brave) [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

I liked this best without the vodka – I’m a bit of a wimp. The lemon-honey-cinnamon trio tasted so familiar yet so different. I also liked chewing on the bits of lemon zest (I suppose you could strain these out if you really, really wanted to).

Ava drank her cup (definitely vodka free) with much vigor. Even Mr Picky, who hates lemon in his water at restaurants, drank this one up. I do believe the honey made all the difference for them as they both have quite a sweet tooth.

What I liked least about this dish:

I liked this the longer it sat in the spices. If you’d like stronger flavor, consider letting the mixture steep even longer – just keep simmering and the cinnamon stick will continue to give.

Minty Garlicky Yogurt Sauce [Recipe]

What I liked most about this dish:

This makes a brilliant side, especially for lamb. Like the other yogurt sauces we’ve made on this Adventure, this one was a snap to throw together. Ava tried it but had trouble with the bursts of garlic, calling the dip “spicy.” Even still, she kept going in for little tastes, which is more than I can say for Mr. Picky. Shocker of all, he decided to eat his oromo with soy sauce instead. What??? Sometimes I just look the other way…

What I liked least about this dish:

I think time is the best friend of this dip – the longer it can sit, the better off you’ll be. I’d even go so far as making it a couple of days ahead. You can just stir it back together (some separation can occur as it sits).

Ava’s Corner


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