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Uzbekistan Eating Etiquette 101 | Food Safety, Alcohol & Rules in Uzbekistan

  Date: 05.12.2017

  Category: Useful info

Uzbekistan eating rules etiquette, traditional Uzbek food, Uzbekistan drinking traditions, vodka & alcohol drinking in Uzbekistan, Uzbekistan food security, Uzbek bread & tea ceremonies, eating facts & taboos and other 101 facts about food and eating in Uzbekistan.

Visiting Uzbekistan or any other country requires some basic knowledge about the country in order to truly discover the destination and for understanding it. As a little known country, Uzbekistan’s Eating Etiquette can be somehow different from the traditional Food Rules of other places. Below you are going to find some most popular “Rules & Traditions of Eating in Uzbekistan”:

Washing hands before each meal

One of the main eating traditions of Uzbekistan requiere to wash their hands each time when when sit for eating. Especially, the travelers who will be visiting the small villages of Uzbekistan-off-beaten-tracks they need to pay more attention to it as the people in these places are the most traditionalist people. This simple thing has been accepted as one of the golden rules of Food Safety in Uzbekistan and all Central Asia.

Bread is sacred

The bread is sacred in Uzbek culture and people never put the bread upside down. When the Uzbeks sit at a table the youngest person breaks the bread and distributes it to the others. As the main element of the Uzbek table the bread is served always and with every kind of food.

Eating Taboos in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan has been under Russian and Soviet Regime for over a century and people can eat any kind of meat and alcohol in the restaurants. Anyway, the consumption of pork, alcohol etc. is rather limited. Some of the small teahouses may not have alcohol and the pork can be found only in bigger european restaurants which offer some international type cuisine.

Dessert is served at the beginning of the food

According to local eating customs the Uzbeks eat sweats mainly during the breakfast and the rest of the day it is very slightly consumed. Though in local festivities and ceremonies the desserts play quite important role and they are served at the beginning of the party together with the salads. So, if you are going to eat with an Uzbek family, don’t be surprised by seeing the desserts at the beginning of your meal! 

Be ready for the absence of dessert in traditional teahouses

Be ready to the fact that small restaurants in Uzbekistan may not have any kind of desserts except from some fruits during the fruit season. A delicate eating etiqutte in Uzbekistan says that "dessert should be served only to women". Due to that reason, during local Uzbek festivities mainly women are served desserts and for men it's not common.

Vodka is Russian Heritage in Uzbekistan

When Central Asian cities have been invaded by Tsarist Army the Russian soldiers have been clearly different from the local people with their different religion, different language and the Uzbek tea against the Russian vodka. Today the Uzbeks have started drinking a lot of alcohol and the foreigners need to be careful to chose a partner for sharing the bottle of Vodka because when they start drinking it with the locals sometimes it may last quite a long time! 

Toast Time. Wait for your turn

There is almost no Uzbek festivity without alcohol drinking and the alcohol is always accompanied by a toast. Normally, every guest will be asked to revive the party with an interesting toast and it is wise to wait for one’s turn.

Less tea in the cup means more respect

Tea is so much important in the Uzbekistan’s culture and there are lots of traditions and some ceremonies which are related to tea. One of them says that the cup of the guest should not be filled with tea as a sign of respect. It means that if you are served just a little tea, you are accepted as an honored guest in the family. Note: in the Northern regions of the country you will find the opposite of it!

Never Refuse…

Never refuse tea and bread when you are invited by the Uzbeks. When the Uzbeks invite you to their table or to their home you can always accept to taste their bread or to sip a cup of tea with them which is a sign of respect.

Furthest means – most honored…

The seat furthest from the entrance is reserved for the most honored guests. Mainly the most respected guest for the Uzbeks is the oldest person. It means that the seat of the most youngest guests is closest to the entrance.

Leaving tips in an Uzbek Restaurant?

Most restaurants and teahouses in Uzbekistan add a service charge (tips) to their bill and normally you are not expected to leave tips. Only, when you are very satisfied by the food or service of the restaurant you may leave some tips (8-15%) which shows your gratitude.

No knife at a restaurant

Apart from big restaurants, you will not see knives on tables of smaller cafes and teahouses. People used to eat mostly with their hands and due to that the knife has not been widely used by restaurant owners. Note: you can always ask for a knife which will be accepted by the restaurant with no problem.

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