Samarqand Bazaar, Uzbekistan – 7/2014

September 9, 2017

While we had been fascinated by the temples, minarets, mausoleums and madrassahs in Samarkand, back in the 8th century the area that is today’s central market was the center of activity. Merchants from China, India and Iran congregated here to buy and exchange goods. There were craft workshops, trading stalls, warehouses and caravanserais, chai-khanas, (pavilions for drinking tea), and traditional bakeries for the characteristic Samarkand bread, called “obi-non”, a round loaf that looks like the sun’s disk. They are famous for their special taste and originality of their decoration.

Monika was having fun trying on traditional Uzbek hats.

We poked our heads into one of the bakeries. The owner was happy to give us a quick tour, showing us how the bread was kneaded, formed and decorated with sesame and poppy seeds and literally slapped to the walls and ceiling of the round brick oven. He insisted we take a sample. It was still warm when we smeared butter on it back in our camper. Given the outside temperature between 95°F and 105°F, it would’ve never cooled off.

Next to the mosque and mausoleum of Bibi-Khanum, the market today no longer has its old buildings, but it still keeps alive the spirit of the ancient trading culture of this great city. We found dried fruit and nuts, traditional sweets, honey, dairy products and a selection of vegetables that rivals the best supermarkets in California. We even found one shop selling wonderful salami, only beef of course because this is a Muslim country. One lady insisted that Monika needed a traditional wedding hat. Something that was probably not available in the 13th century: Ice cream cones. In these temperatures, you have to eat it fast.

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