Kyrgyz Museum of Fine Arts
Museum hours are 10:00-13:00 or 14:00-18:00 depending on the day.
The honey market is a seasonal event. It doesn’t run all day, usually starting late morning and finishing in the mid to late afternoon
Its funny, during the week I function well on very little sleep, but once it is the weekend, I crave sleep like words can’t even describe. In risking sounding like a lazy goofball, 11 AM felt early for me last Saturday, when we as a group were to go to the Kyrgyz national museum of fine arts. I rolled my eyes at myself probably as hard as you are right now. Anyway, we met up in the lobby at the London school, and we were off to the races. Our day at the museum was pretty fun. It was basically a smattering of traditional Kyrgyz art, landscape pieces, some modern art, and a lot of Soviet art that definitely had the “socialist-realist” vibe to it.
However nice it was, the art is not what I am here to talk to you about today. No, today I am here to talk to you about the honey market that was/is held in the Kyrgyz National Museum of Fine Art. After our tour through a private collection in the museum (which, might I add felt secretive and cool) we came down into the main lobby and were about to leave. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a corridor that led into an area that looked like it had a lot going on. Being the stubborn explorer that I am, I asked what exactly it was. Yulia, who took us there on this particular day, and who is also my lovely grammar teacher, asked if we wanted to go check it out. Was there any question as to what my answer was?
So it turns out, in the Kyrgyz National Museum for the Arts, they have a periodic… wait for it… honey market. That is right. They take that glorious delicious substance of shifting viscosity, and they open a huge room in the Kyrgyz national museum of the arts to honey farmers and merchants.
Now, I grew up with America’s standard bear-shaped squeeze bottle honey, and I loved the stuff. I would drink/eat the stuff straight to give me a blast of energy when I used to box or dance. It was the best stuff, yet I didn’t even know what I was missing. Here, they get professional with their honey. They had honey of all different varieties. Honey that had a fudge-like consistency, clear honey, opaque honey, honey with different flavors, honey from different kinds of bees, honey from different kinds of flowers, etc. Man was I in honey heaven.
Each vender has their own little section where they set up their labeled buckets of honey. It almost functions like a bazaar, with all the different merchants trying to pull you in and sell you their product, only here, you get to take little samples of each different type of honey, and dear god… were they all delicious.
All metaphors aside I was about as close to being a kid in a candy shop as I will ever be in my life again. I had a big fat grin on my face, and each time I tasted a honey that was more delicious than the last, I almost felt like I was going to push out tears of euphoria and joy (I really like honey).
This all culminated in me having the holy grail of honey (for this particular day at least): sunflower honey. Now, I don’t know what they do to make this stuff, but if they could somehow synthesize joy into golden food form, this is what it would be. It tasted like a sunflower smells in a garden on a warm summer day. It tasted so good that it gave me nostalgia of running around in the backyard of my family’s house on Lincoln Avenue when I was a little boy, when me and my brothers would spray each other with water guns and hoses and would swing on our swing set. Even the texture superseded any honey I have ever tasted. It had this rough jam-like texture that you could almost chew. It looked like a golden marmalade. It was one of the most unique things that I have ever tasted, and one of the most delicious. I immediately asked the vendor how much it would cost, and he told me that a kilogram of it was 300 som ($5.81). As bad luck would have it, I only had 100 som on me that day.
I wish I could have brought some of the sunflower honey home with me, but sadly I had to part ways with it on that day. I may find myself going back there soon and getting much more than one kilogram of it though. Honey in Kyrgyzstan is good, especially sunflower honey.