The Talking Kyrgyz Phrasebook

Below, you will find several useful phrases and words. To the left is the English and to the above right is an English transliteration of the Kyrgyz translation. Below the English transliteration is a Russian transliteration. Kyrgyz uses a modified Cyrillic alphabet nearly identical to the Russian. In the center of each row is a […]

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Chak-chak: A Glorious and Celebratory Fried Honey Cake

Чак-чак (chak-chak) is a dessert food made from deep-fried dough drenched in a hot honey syrup and formed into a certain shape, most commonly a mound or pyramid. It is popular all over the former Soviet Union. In Russia, чак-чак is especially associated with the Tatar and Bashkortostan republics, where it is considered a national […]

Victory Day: Student Observations from Across the Former Soviet Space

Victory Day is celebrated every May 9th in many countries across the former Soviet space. This public holiday gives often multiple days off and celebrates the end of The Great Patriotic War (which is WWII as experienced in the USSR). Estimates vary, but about 37 million Soviet people died in the war from causes ranging […]

The Talking Kyrgyz Phrasebook

Below, you will find several useful phrases and words. To the left is the English and to the above right is an English transliteration of the Kyrgyz translation. Below the English transliteration is a Russian transliteration. Kyrgyz uses a modified Cyrillic alphabet nearly identical to the Russian. In the center of each row is a […]

The Talking Uzbek Phrasebook

Below, you will find several useful phrases and words. To the left is the English and to the far right is the Uzbek translation. Uzbek is currently transitioning from the Cyrillic script to Latin. While Cyrillic is common in Uzbekistan, Latin is the official script. In the center of each row is a play button […]

The SRAS Guide to Fermented Milk

Russia and Eurasia offer what can seem to be a bewildering selection of dairy products in their transnational food cultures. An area of special note, and often one of the strangest to Westerners, is the seemingly never-ending assortment of fermented milk drinks in the Russian gastronomic repertoire. To cut down on the brow-furrowing and sometimes […]

Korean Carrot Salad: A Simple Salad, Full of Flavor and History

Морковь по-корейски (also called корейская морковь/морковка) was a Soviet-era invention of the Корё-сарам (Koryo-Saram), ethnic Koreans living in the territory of the former Soviet Union. The salad was inspired by traditional Korean cuisine, and was shaped by the shortages and circumstances of life in the Soviet Union. It originated in Central Asia but became immensely […]

Halva: Ancient and Nutritious

Халва, the rich, crumbly dessert well-loved across many cultures, is so densely filling it almost manages to feel like a meal – and not an entirely unhealthy one at that. There are more than one hundred types of халва, which is generally ground and sweetened nuts and/or seeds. Its role as a staple dessert extends […]

National Kyrgyz Horse Games

This year elections for the Issyk-Kul region were coming. This does not affect life much as a temporary student in Kyrgyzstan except that it means that the Бир Бол political party set up the National Kyrgyz Horse Games (Националные конно-спортивные игры) with free entrance for anyone! This was only a half hour walk outside of […]

Happy Nooruz from Bishkek!

As soon as I knew I’d be spending time in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, I asked Google about the national holidays that would happen during my stay. Google gave me a neat little list of holidays that were mostly familiar — except for one: March 21, Nooruz. Nooruz (also Nowruz, Novruz, or Naw Rúz), which means “New […]

An Oral Account of Yurt Making in Kyzyl-Too, Kyrgyzstan

Four and a half hours southeast of Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek, the village of Kyzyl-Too lies nestled in a valley about four miles from the shore of Issyk-Kul, the world’s second largest saltwater lake. With a population of only around 1500, Kyzyl-Too is known regionally – and increasingly globally – as a bastion of Kyrgyz cultural […]

What Bishkek Eats for Ramadan

Well, Bishkek, it’s the beginning of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting from sunrise to sunset. This year, the holy month starts July 9th, coinciding with watermelon season in Kyrgyzstan. Ramadan also coincides with the dog days of summer, when the days are at their longest, temperatures are at their highest, and beach season at […]

Up Close and Personal with a Manaschi

A Performance and Interview with Nazarkyl Seydrakmanov This past week, SRAS students met with one of Kyrgyzstan’s most famous manaschis, Nazarkyl Seydrakmanov. Manaschis are Kyrgyz professional storytellers of the Manas epic poem, the longest epic poem in world history. During this meeting, Nazarkyl discussed his personal life story, the artistry of his craft, and gave […]

Mad for Manas in Talas

There are few essential things to know about Kyrgyzstan. One of these is the country’s folkloric hero, Manas. You might recognize the name from the Manas Transit Center, the supply center for US troops fighting in Afghanistan. That transit center is named for him, as are quite a lot of things in Kyrgyzstan. Manas is […]

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