31 May 2011

Guide to the Tokmok Bazaar

No, there isn't a guide to the bazaar, but I need one.  It'll never be written, because there are about 5 other people on this planet who would find it useful. 

My biggest problem with finding things, especially spices and foods that are specifically Dungan or Central Asian, in the bazaar is knowing what to call them.  Today I discovered black vinegar and sesame oil.  I'd bought both at a Chinese grocery in Bishkek and I was delighted to find them here, but I wish I'd known they were here earlier.  I'd looked before, but I had no idea what to ask for and today I just happened to see them at the spice place I like to go.  Looking names up in Russian either in my good dictionary or online works sometimes, but certainly not always.

And there are always interesting vegetables, but when I ask what they are, I get a Dungan word.  That's totally logical, but it doesn't help me figure them out.  Even if I learn the Russian name, it's not so likely to be in my dictionary.  Maybe someone just needs to come up with a Central Asian edition of a good Russian dictionary. 

The guide would also have the secret of the mystery "Dungan spices" that so many Dungan recipes call for.  I have to find someone who'll tell me what's in there so I can recreate it in the US.  

I'm not complaining, really, because I'm generally finding what I need.  But I hope that someone soon I'll be able to report back that I have figured out where I can buy tofu sticks in Tokmok.  I know they're here somewhere because I've seen them in the salads.  But you can be assured that there is not a word for "tofu sticks" in any Russian dictionary I've looked in.

1 comment:

  1. Good news on the sesame oil. Speaking of tofu, does pressed tofu have a distinctive taste? Or just texture? The Winco employee was not aware of it. Your mix of languages is very tricky for food shopping.