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July/August 2015


smiled, handed me a

hot loaf and went back

to his baking. I took

a bite. It was warm,

crisp, chewy perfec-

tion, with an open,

airy crumb and just the

right amount of char

and flavor. The texture,

subtle taste of roasted

grain and slightly smoky aroma immediately reminded me of

my first Central Asian tandoor-baked bread in Herat, Afghan-

istan, in 1973. Now, after 42 years, I was in neighboring

Uzbekistan, visiting bread bazaars, interviewing bakers, sam-

pling bread and talking to everyday customers about the sig-

nificance of bread in Uzbek culinary and cultural traditions.

Clockwise from top, opposite:

Baker's assistant Gauhjaroy

Kiyikiboyeva displays a tray of Tashkent-style


, stamped, oiled

and ready for the tandoor oven. Raushanbek Ismailov is a


—a bread baker; here, he braids a decorative, Tashkent-style

non. In Bukhara, Erkin nonvoy keeps an eye on loaves baking along

the walls of his tandoor oven. At the Ulugbek non bazaar in

Samarkand, bread vendors pile their tables with non and festive