National Geographic : 1946 Oct
The National Geographic Magazine No Waxed Wrapper but Plenty of Flavor Has This Hardtack There is no need for dating the loaves. Customers, knowing when the baking is done, hasten to the streetside counter in Kabul. With his finger nails the baker scores each loaf to keep it from swelling. It was evident that the north country is not neglected when money is passed out, but in language the Kabul Government seems to look south and east toward the Indus. Pashto, the half-obscure language of Afghan tribes, reaches well beyond the Indian frontier and is being widely taught. The chief nonofficial medium for foster ing the national language is the Pashto Tolana, or Academy, a union of the Literary and Pashto Societies, to which the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC is an eagerly awaited monthly visitor. As when Turkey went to school to learn the Latinized alphabet under Mustafa Kemal's leadership,* open-air classes in Pashto flourish about many a Government office, especially when classrooms are chilly and the sunshine is warm. I was sur prised to find that in so rigidly Moslem a land, Arabic, the lan guage of the Koran, seems to be understood by few. In the bazaars I renewed contact with gray-bearded letter writers, makers of karakul caps, venders of grapes and melons, of silver bracelets and gold-embroidered skull caps, their richness to be hidden under loosely wound turbans. Grains Roasted in Hot Sand The Afghan bazaars reveal one strange food combination, English walnut meats mixed with dried white mul berries, and a novel method of roasting. In a round-bottomed kettle, grains and oven hot sand are stirred to gether until the proper degree of popping or brownness is reached. Then the mixture is tilted through a sieve, the evenly roasted grain separated, and the still-hot sand shoveled back into the oven for the next batch. "How does the sand taste?" asked my facetious hostess in Delhi. Evidently English walnuts are not usually so treated. But I bought half a pound or so for four cents, had them roasted for a few puls, and found that when cooled they were delicious. Smallest modern coin I employed was the five-pul piece, and the ancient tradition that a single pul was, as its name suggested, good for a meal, must have been abandoned.t Hanging from high poles were gaily em * See "Turkey Goes to School," by Maynard Owen Williams, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, January, 1929. t A pul is about a twelfth of a cent. The word means both "meal" and "money."