Saturday, October 31, 2009

How to Carve a Pumpkin in Tajikistan

Step 1: Go to the bazaar and find a pumpkin "kadu" in Tajik. (In my case, this was the only pumpkin I've ever seen in the market that was shaped like a American pumpkin. Most are like giant butternut squash).
Step 2: Amuse the seller by your over the top enthusiasm at finding said pumpkin, and laugh while your friend takes your picture with the seller and the pumpkin. (That picture is still in her camera, I think).
Step 3: Take the 9 kg (20 lb) pumpkin home in your backpack.
Step 4: Cut the top off the pumpkin and try to remove the cap. Since the flesh is so think, cut a nose hole so you can try pushing from that angle.
Step 5: Pry the cap off the pumpkin using a knife and spoon.
Step 6: Take a victory bite. Just kidding!
Step 7: Clean the inside (note how thick it is).
Step 8: Go upstairs to your neighbors' apartment, since you had invited yourself over to demonstrate pumpkin carving. (Three people in the Tajik family in my building speak English, so that's how I communicate with them. I also practice my Tajik phrases on them).
Step 9: Ask the neighbor girls' advice on eye and mouth placement, and practice Tajik words for eyes, nose, and mouth.
Step 10: Carve the pumpkin as the whole family watches in amazement and excitement.
Step 11: Give the finished pumpkin a name. The grandmother thought this one should have an English name, so the girls named him "Tommy."
Step 12: Light a candle inside the pumpkin and applaud with the girls at the face glows.
Step 13: Eat soup, bread, cookies, meat and salad and drink homemade juice while talking with the family.
Step 14: Go back home with the pumpkin (he's going to a Halloween party hosted by an American couple) and reflect on how great your neighbors are.


  1. Might this smiling face someday turn into a luscious pumpkin pie?

  2. Wow, Bethany! That sounds like the perfect language and cultural experience!

  3. Too cute!!! I love the one of you eating the pumpkin. ;) I'm impressed you even carved one! Peter and I had high hopes for doing one ourselves but never got around to it. Thanks for putting my efforts to shame, Rebathon. ;)