Man first began baking bread 12,000 years ago. Since then, bread has come to mean more than just food to nourish the body. Many cultures have imbued bread with a variety of spiritual and social values. Nowhere is that more common than in the Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan.
It is hard to imagine a meal in an Uzbek family without even a small piece of bread. Uzbek bread, or non, is a sign of well-being. In traditionally rural areas, the first thing people bring with them as a gift is non. When leaving, the host won't say goodbye without giving them another bread.
In families with their own special oven, women prepare non from dough by hand, and press the center, and punch it with hammer with a decorative pattern.
Non is made only by male bakers who can stand the heat all day long.
A good baker must have a strong will, because you have to give up your sleep, wake up at 2 o'clock in the morning to prepare dough.
There is nothing more delicious than a non, baked in the traditional, a round clay oven, which is heated with firewood, and then the bread is tucked to the inside over the fire, and finally sprayed with water.
Bread for Uzbeks is sacred. For them, non is more than just food. It is placed under the head of a newborn as a way of wishing it a long life without problems. It is put between the legs of a baby who has just taken his first step to provide a blessing for its path. Mother's have their sons take a bite from bread, hoping they will soon return from war or army service.
At any Uzbek market, there are endless rows of non with so many designs, names and aromas. There are more than 30 types of Uzbek bread: with meat, with onions, with crushed nuts, tomatoes, raisins, and many other things.