Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Afghanistan a landlocked country at the heart of Asia, is the crossroads for four major cultural areas: Persia and the Middle East; C. Asia; the Indian subcontinent; and the Far East. It is a land of contrasts and extremes—scorching deserts; high, inaccessible snow-capped mountains; and green, fertile plains and valleys, some of which are subtropical.

Afghanistan was a crossroads on the ancient silk road which linked East and West and which played a vital role in the exchange of foods, plants, skills, and knowledge. Other influences came with invading armies: Alexander the Great; Genghis Khan; the Moghul Babur and the Persian Nader Shah; and then the British with their Indian troops in the 19th century and the Russians in the 20th century (although the latter left a negligible cultural influence behind them).