The food. When people here ask you what you miss about America, they probably expect you to say your friends or your family. And don't get me wrong. Of course, I miss my friends and family. But man do I miss the food in America.
And one of those things that I miss is Chick-fil-a. I'm a Georgia-boy, born and raised. I remember getting nuggets meals at Oglethorpe Mall even as a small kid. Eventually, my love for the restaurant grew when I realized that I could get a free sandwich every time I donated blood. Helping potentially save a life and getting a coupon in return for a delicious lunch, I don't know what could be better. I even worked at a Chick-fil-a one summer and loved the free meal I got every day at work. My professional recommendation from eating four to five sandwiches a week is to try out their sauces: their buffalo sauce is surprisingly spicy.
So when Mark asked me if I wanted his parents to bring anything from America when they came this summer, the first thing I thought of was Chick-fil-a. I was only half-joking. After all, five months ago Brad managed to hand deliver me Krystal. What's next on the fast food list but a chicken sandwich. And not just any chicken sandwich, but the new spicy chicken sandwich. Yes, even though I am on the other side of the world, I still get updates from Chick-fil-a.com, and I probably knew about the debut of the new sandwich before most of my friends in the States. Would I truly have to wait until November to try this new exciting innovation? What do I want from America? I want the new spicy chicken sandwich from Chick-fil-a.
Mark's dad seemed to be excited by the challenge. The plan was set in motion. They would get the sandwich the day before they left. Freeze it overnight. Then seal the chicken, buns, and pickle in separate zip-lock bags. Mark would be getting a regular sandwich, and I'd be getting a spicy one. They'd pack the goods into their luggage and they'd unpack it after the 30 hour trip. Simple.
When Mark's parents and sister arrived, Mark sent me a text to tell me the sandwiches were in tow. They'd made the Transatlantic light bez (without) problem. Unfortunately, I'd be in Shymkent until Sunday and the sandwiches would arrive in Taraz on Friday. What's another couple of days though?
Sunday (yes, on Sunday) I arrived back in Taraz and, even before going home, immediately went to Mark's house. His family was asleep, still jet-lagged by the long trip. He got out the sandwich. Although originally planning to wait for me, he understandably succumbed to the hunger and had eaten his sandwich the day before. I unwrapped mine piece by piece. First the bread. Then the pickle. Then the chicken. We reheated it on the stove and the reassembled it.
I lifted it to my mouth and took a large bite. MMMMMMmmmmmm. It was amazing. It tasted amazing. It was just like I had remembered it, and the spiciness was an interesting enhancement. I relished in the food, savoring each bite. Chewing and chewing and chewing. I don't think I've eaten anything so slowly in my life (see previous entry about hot-dog eating contest). I didn't want to finish it, but eventually I was down to the last bite. I popped it in my mouth and slowly chewed. Chick-fil-a in Kazakhstan. This country is always full of surprises.