Sunday, November 21, 2010

The darker (and lighter) side of . . . Pomegranates.

So, I know that the color of fruit varies from variety to variety for a number of reasons; due to different growing climates or as a result of different minerals in the soil, what have you.  I've been noticing (and enjoying) the pomegranates around here for the last month or so, and have been pleasantly surprised to find that the lighter colored 'nates have a robust and sweet flavor.  Mind you, the darker 'nates have more flavor, but tend to have a bit of a tart side that the lighter ones don't.  When I say lighter and darker, I usually mean that the light ones are a dark pink, while the dark ones are a deep ruby color.  Here's an example of the deep ruby color:

Anywho... I went to the market today to pick up a few items for the week ahead and I saw some good looking pomegranates, so I picked one up.  It looked and felt good.  Upon my return home and after ripping into it to prep it for eating, I was absolutely astonished!

Now, I love pomegranates.  Many of you know that.  They are a great source of antioxidants, etc. etc. etc.  Bottom line, they're delicious, though somewhat difficult pieces of fruit to eat.  In addition to being somewhat cantankerous to enjoy from an ease-of-use standpoint, they are notorious for their propensity to leave stains on anything that their juice contacts.  (If you're currently situated in 440A Lower Grass Valley Road, a quick look at the "kitchen" floor will attest to this.)  This can be exasperated by the fact that preparing pomegranates for human consumption usually requires at least a little bit of tugging or ripping, which often leads to a rupturing of the fruit's delicious flavor-capsules.  In short, pomegranates can stain easily...


Unless there is no pigment in the pomegranate!  Upon pulling this 'nate apart, I was amazed to find that it had almost no color whatsoever.  I was so excited by this, that I went back to the market to get a "regular" pomegranate for comparison.

So that you know, the white pomegranate was pink on the outside, and it has good flavor.  Much sweeter than the (very) tart red one in this picture, but not as flavorful.

Signing off,
~The Fruit Lover

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Things that have become normal for us...

Running the hot water for 7-10 minutes in order to convince it to make its way up the pipes from the bottom of the building.  If it takes less time, one of our neighbors has already run the water.

Stopping in at the fresh Turkish bread shop after school to get a "baton" (loaf) if we need it for dinner.

A dessert of nutella and baton.

The smell of cigarette smoke.

Hitting up the "Supermarket", the bizarre (lots of fruits and veggies), and then maybe the bread shop on our weekly shopping trips.

Walking to get our groceries, walking to church, walking just to walk.

Looking like a fool when attempting to speak or understand Russian.

Going up and down our 7 flights of stairs.

Being stared at while running, particularly if we happen to run in the evenings.

Lighting the stove with a match.

Waiting for the next not-so-busy bus.  Avoiding the marshukas.

Wedding processions that sound and look like a stream of cop cars - lights, sirens, everything except validity.

Eating eggplant.

Cars creeping into, or through, the intersection before the light turns green.


Gunshot sounds outside our windows.  Thank you boys with firecrackers.

Taking off our shoes when entering our home, and anyone else's.

Finding our bills hanging out of our decrepit mailbox at the base of the building or in the door jam of the front door.

Not knowing exactly what the bills are for.

Getting a portion of our paycheck in crisp hundred dollar bills every month.  Okay, this still doesn't feel normal.

Searching for Mozzarella cheese - it can be found.   Not thinking about cheddar cheese.

Changing money at one of the many "oben ballyuts" across the street.

The fancy footwork that is sometimes required to maintain one's balance on the autobus.  There is a certain sway, a certain rhythm our bodies have quickly learned.

The friendly faces of people selling their wares on the street.

Not understanding what people are saying around us, and not expecting too.

Speaking as though no one around us can understand.  This might be a bad habit to keep.

Spending less than .25 cents each per day for transportation to and from school.

Getting in a car and not reaching for a seat belt.  Being pleasantly surprised if there is one. 

Asking our school secretary/administrative assistant for help when we have an apartment concern, or when we just need help figuring out where and how to take a vacation.

Having the rest of "our" world be a day behind.  At least we always know what's coming.

Spending more on a weekly coffee than we would if we ate 8 samcis.

Having time in the evenings to blog, read, study Russian, plan, scheme, and dream.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Petroglyphs and Cholpon-Ata

Issyk-Kul, day two.

We had received a tip from none other than Victor to take a taxi into Cholpon-Ata and go to the petroglyphs, the marina, and the museum.  Victor is one to pay attention to.  He knows his stuff and he's just one of those pleasant people you want to get to know better.  I am truly glad to have him around the school.  He's simply great.

We arranged for a taxi from the sanatorium to Cholpon-Ata and were dropped off at the petroglyphs.  One of our co-workers (Cate, from MN) joined us for the day.

This is a very cool area situated on a large alluvial fan.  Numerous large boulders are strewn around the entire place, many of which have the carvings on full display.  The site is dated back to around 2000 BC.  This is much older than you and I.  In fact, it's much older than even your parents.  Along with the carved stones, there were many stone circles which have been identified as more recent (1000 BC), though still older than you and I.

We had another day of beautiful weather, and enjoyed being outside greatly.  We walked from the petroglyphs back to town, which brought us by a local cemetery.  Many of the graves are traditional Islamic markers, though most of them have pictures of the deceased, which tells me that this is not a devoutly Muslim culture.  It was interesting all the same.

After the cemetery, we walked down to the lake.  Although we didn't actually make it to the marina, we did have a nice little snack in what felt like a picnic table-less cove on Lake Tahoe.  The yellow of the birch trees was fantastic.

Following this brief snack, we walked the main street in Cholpon-Ata and found a small cafe for lunch.  We had what is become our favorite fall-back, Логман (lahgman) and followed it up with a trip to the museum.  The museum has local, Kyrgyz historical artifacts going as far back as possible, and bringing us up to Kyrgyzstan's independence in 1991 (ish).  It was great, although the descriptions were in Russian and Kyrgyz only.

All told, a good day.  The fall colors by the lake were great.  Here's what I believe is an apricot tree.