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Eating and Drinking (Central Asia)

Central Asian cuisine is diverse and flavorsome with a legacy stretching back thousands of 
years. It is important to keep an open mind and be adventurous. All meals (excluding drinks) are 
included in our fully inclusive group tours. Please be aware that dishes selected for your meals reflect the cooking styles and signature dishes of the local area you are in. 

In Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, the cuisine is influenced by Middle Eastern and Turkic dishes. You will find yoghurts, dried fruit, legumes, fruit vinegars, or mild spices like cumin as a seasoning to some of the common dishes such as lagman (handmade noodles), shashlyk (kebabs), naan (flat bread) and plov (rice pilaf dish).

Mutton and chicken are the only meats available in most areas and feature in most dishes. Local breakfast dishes include naan and airan (like sour cream), savoury noodles with vinegar and green tea. You may also be served a fried egg, jam, honey or toast. Black tea and coffee can usually be requested. Fresh cow’s milk is not generally available. 

In Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, many fragrant herbs and spices are used, as well as tart flavours such as lemons and sour plums. Meat dishes, stews and cheeses are also very popular, using a lot of ingredients such as  pomegranates, saffron, rose water, honey, olive oil, yogurt,
onions, garlic, fresh and dried fruits, and a variety of nuts - washed down with a hearty red wine!

Vegetarian alternatives are not usually widely available, however there are always plenty of salads, vegetables and bread offered at most meals. In remote areas, lunch may be prepared as ‘picnic style’ by the hotel that morning, or your guides may organise a simple meal at a local restaurant. Lunch is the main meal of the day, with dinner usually a lighter version of lunch. Long driving distances, road conditions or flight times may delay or alter your meal times, which could mean a dedicated meal is replaced by those supplied on the aircraft. 

Despite the Muslim culture, drinking alcohol is acceptable and expected in this ex-Soviet region. Expect to be offered vodka (not included in your tour price) at every meal! The most popular mealtime drink is Chay (green tea) and is available at most meals, usually a large block of sugar crystal may be added to the pot, or even your glass. Black tea and coffee are not always served, however can usually be requested.

If you like, you can bring some supplements with you from home. Tea/coffee bags, instant soups 
or noodles, biscuits, energy bars – consider your luggage weight though! There are numerous small supermarkets and shops in every town and village along the way where you can buy odd items e.g. instant noodles, muesli and chocolate bars, biscuits, drinks, chips, cakes and sweets.

Drinking & Water

You may like to drink beer, wine, soft drinks, fruit juice or bottled water with your meals – please note drinks are not included in your tour price so payment for these is made directly to the restaurant staff. Green tea is often provided complimentary at restaurants. 

We strongly recommend only drinking bottled water, and avoid ice in your drinks. Some hotels will provide bottled water in the room, as well as a kettle or flasks of boiled water which is suitable for drinking and cleaning teeth. Bottled drinking water, soft drinks and beer are widely available and affordable.

Dietary Requirements

Those with dietary requirements will be catered for - just make sure to inform your booking agent of any specific requirements well in advance of your trip. Please be aware however that restaurants may not always be able to accommodate these. Wendy Wu Tours cannot guarantee that there will be no cross-contamination for travellers with severe allergies, and suggest you remind each restaurant of your requirements. Gluten-free and vegetarian food may not be as readily available as in Australia. 

Whilst travelling away from major cities, it is highly recommended that passengers with food intolerances take additional food items, as not all dietary requests will be met due to the limited foods available.