This is one of the many stands one can see throughout the city.

Bishkek Street Food: Corn on the Cob

Published: August 9, 2015

Горячая кукуруза / Hot Corn
Address: Throughout Bishkek
Price: 50 som (about $0.75) for one large cob,
but varies with seller and market.

During the summer months one can find plenty of things to buy on street corners: drinks, snacks, newspapers and the list can go on and on.  One of the more unexpected buys that I saw was corn on the cob.

Especially when in season, one can find corn everywhere being sold out of buckets, steamers and just large insulated boxes.  You also see it being eaten everywhere: at the beach, in the car, on the street.  Being from a corn-growing state I was surprised at how ubiquitous the corn was here.  As such, I had to try it.

The first noticeable thing about the corn is that it is not the typical sweet corn one finds in Illinois that has a “peaches and cream” sort of coloring with both yellow and white kernels.  This corn is just standard yellow and not nearly as sweet as our sweet corn.  It looks and tastes a lot like the plain yellow corn you get from a can back in the U.S. really.  At least, after the second time of eating it that is what it reminded me of.

The first time I had it was on the beach near Issyk-kul, my camera battery was dead by the time the corn was brought out so I could not get a picture of it.  That time though, the corn tasted very, very bland, but it was surprisingly, easier to eat.  The kernels themselves are much thicker and less well attached to the cob compared to U.S. sweet corn.  Meaning that fewer pieces get stuck between your teeth and it is simply not as hard to get the corn off of the cob.  The second time around though, the corn actually tasted very good.

This second time is where the pictures came from and as I mentioned earlier, it tasted like the corn one gets out of the can in the U.S.  I bought mine from a woman who has a specially designed cart for the corn that stores it and tells people what she is selling.  You simply go up to the stand/cart, order however many cobs you want and whether you want salt added to it.  You can, to an extent, pick which cobs you want and they are put into a plastic bag, you pay and you are on your way.

People selling the corn can be found all over the city, there was a stand near the school for a large part of the summer, there are people selling corn near Ala-Too Square, in front of the various shopping centers throughout the city, some people walk around the larger bazaars selling their “горячая кукуруза” (hot corn) to shoppers and others can be seen at Issyk-kul selling to beach-goers.

About the author

Ian Walker

Ian Walker graduated from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada May of 2015 with a degree in Philosophy and a minor in Law & Society. He is now studying Russian as a Second Language with SRAS in Bishkek while serving an SRAS-arranged internship at a local NGO to learn more about non-profit work and international community development. He hopes to start Peace Corps service in the following year or two to continue his career in community development. In the picture here, he pictured in a Bishkek park that has a tower which is locked until one purchases a ticket to go to the top, and holding a bottle of Maksim Shoro, a popular Kyrgyz fermented drink.

Program attended: Challenge Grants: Funding for Study Abroad

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