Aktan's Thanksgiving Twist
FLEX exchange student from Kyrgyzstan cooking in Indiana kitchen on Thanksgiving

Kyrgyz culinary ambassador

I found myself embarking on a culinary adventure that would bridge the gap between my homeland, Kyrgyzstan, and this charming American community. My passion for cooking traditional food became a cultural exchange, with each dish telling a story of my heritage.

My infectious love for sharing the flavors of my culture turned me into a culinary ambassador on Thanksgiving Day. The rooms of my house buzzed with excitement as the aroma of spices and rich stews seemed to follow me like a fragrant trail. With a proud smile and a twinkle in my eye, I decided to host a cooking extravaganza for my host family, promising them a taste of Kyrgyz hospitality.

The star of the evening was Oromo, a dish that, for me, transcends being merely food. It is a celebration of togetherness, a communal experience that reflects the heart of Kyrgyz culture. As I skillfully prepared Oromo, I took the opportunity to share anecdotes about the nomadic influences and the cultural significance of each ingredient.

My passion for cooking traditional food became a cultural exchange, with each dish telling a story of my heritage.

The communal table, reminiscent of open-air feasts in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, awaited the feast that would soon grace it. The unveiling of the steaming platter marked a moment of anticipation. The rich scent filled the room, and I encouraged my host family to embrace the tradition of using their hands to eat. With each bite, I shared stories of my family gatherings, the joy of breaking bread together, and the cultural tapestry that weaves through every dish.

The experience was not just about sharing a meal. It was about fostering a connection between two worlds and breaking down barriers through the universal language of food. In this small town, I discovered that the simple act of sharing a meal could create profound connections, transcending borders and forging friendships that would last a lifetime.

—Aktan (FLEX, Kyrgyzstan), hosted by the Feher-Tanner family (IN)