Around the World in 80 Plates, Ingredient Highlight

Around the World in 80 Plates: Kyrgyzstan

Captain Create has taken a balloon ride to find wild apples in Kyrgyzstan! The country is located high in the mountains of central Asia and used to be a crossroads of several great civilizations as part of the Silk Road, which connected Asia and Europe to trade goods like spices, foods, porcelain, and most famously, Chinese silk that Europeans liked to use for fancy royal clothing and gowns. As goods like apples moved out from Kyrgyzstan they were planted all over, and are historically significant in cultures from ancient Rome, and China, up to modern day. After all, they still say “an apple a day keeps a doctor away”. There’s no proof, but why risk it? Eat apples!

Apples are originally from the mountains around Kyrgyzstan, where they grew wild for thousands of years. People found them, ate them and decided they were pretty good. They were carefully tended, replanted, and were traded as food, seeds, and even small trees along the silk road.

Kyrgyz people are historically nomadic, which means they move around with their families and animals (mostly sheep and horses) instead of living in a town all year. Stone tools found in the Tian Shan mountains show that early humans lived there as many as 200,000 to 300,000 years ago. The first written records of a civilization in the area appear in Chinese history beginning about 2000 BC. The country is an independent democracy now, but throughout history it was ruled by the Turks, then the Mongols and Genghis Khan, then Russia and the Soviet Union. Apples have been growing there the whole time!

How many apples are there?

Because apples grow by bees moving pollen from tree to tree, there are well over 7,500 known grown kinds of apples. The colors in the skin of apples can be different in each variety and each color has a different combination of vitamins for your body to use. They are easy snacks to pack in your backpack for school, or in your bag to take to work. Apples can be eaten fresh, smashed into juice, or cooked in all sorts of things, from pork roast to applesauce to cakes!

Let’s try a cake… This recipe comes from a woman from Kyrgyzstan, and is an easy dessert to make. Top it with light whipped cream or ice cream to add some dairy to your dessert.

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