Ode to Plov
I sit in Afrosiab
Known as uzbechka to my Russian friends
For the fourth time in less weeks.
The headwaiter knows me but isn’t sure who I am
I ferry foreigners loud and appreciative
To the uzbechka.
I sing the praises of plov
Its sometimes saffron and soft carrots
But at the uzbechka plov goes fast
Working men eat
Like their lives depended on it.
And maybe they do
For its unsung batyrs in a cold, hostile place
Plov is home, or at least something like it.
Plastic covers on suzanis,
Lepeshkas in wicker,
Stacks of blue pialas teetering.
Kitchen door swinging,
Muffled Turkic vowels punctuating.
The place is for its own
Like they say in Russian
But the headwaiter winks at me now, too.
I ask if there is plov today
For the fourth time in less weeks
The headwaiter winks and says,
“And it’s fresh.”
April 2018, Saint Petersburg, Russia