Gateway To Afghanistan

Turkish surprise

A Turkish meal serve from a shipping container was a welcome change from the normal base food. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
A Turkish meal serve from a shipping container was a welcome change from the normal base food. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

The best-kept dining secret at Manas Transit Center is a Turkish cafeteria operating in a converted cargo container.

It's surprisingly clean, quaint and delicious -- the kind of place that would steal the show if the Food Network ever did a Kyrgyzstan edition of its TV series, "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."

One of our escorts had heard about the boutique cafeteria, which is away from the main part of the base, and is designed to primarily serve Turkish contractors expanding the airport's tarmac. It has one serving line, one bathroom and just two long dining tables, plus a big-screen TV with foreign programming. Since there's no signs on the cargo trailer, the cafeteria could easily be mistaken from the outside as a make-shift office, particularly on an expeditionary base with few permanent structures.

The meal was tasty -- rice, cooked vegetables and some kind of links, along with a spicy split pea soup. But since the proprietor doesn't speak English, no one in our group knows exactly what it was we had for lunch.




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David Wasson oversees coverage of politics and state and local government and assists with editing on the City Desk.

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