I hate Uzbekistan. It's the worst. I wish it would just blow up and cease to exist. That would make me extremely happy.
Now, I know what you're thinking: "Walt, you can't publicly hate on a country like this! Uzbeki (Uzbekistani? Uzbekisti?) terrorists are going to hunt you down and kill you for insulting their country, or they're at least going to threaten to blow up movie theaters like those North Korean losers no one should've paid attention to who were pissed at that crappy movie for assassinating Kim Jong-il."
You'd have a point, but consider the following:
1. No one in Uzbekistan has the Internet, let alone a functioning computer. I have to believe that if there are computers in Uzbekistan - and keep in mind, that this is a very small possibility - they use those old Apple computers whose sole functions were to use that program with the turtle where you can draw things by typing in commands and play Oregon Trail. And yes, many in Uzbekistan die of dysentery every year. It's a terrible epidemic over there.
2. Even if Uzbekistani - my MS Word is not pissed at me for that spelling - people somehow had access to computers and the Internet, I can't imagine that they'd be on WalterFootball.com. Countries as poor as Uzbekistan hate American football because A) they are pissed that we came up with the word "football" first after they stole it from us, and B) they don't have the money to buy American football equipment, so they have to resort to kicking a round ball around for fun. Yawn.
3. Who really cares if a few movie theaters get blown up? Sounds like a blast to me. Get it? Blast?
While going on an entire Jerks of the Week rant on the country of Uzbekistan sounds like fun, I wasn't even talking about the country itself when I wrote earlier that I wished it blew up. So, calm down you one rogue Uzbekistani dude who stole an iPad from an unsuspecting tourist: I'm not hating on your country at all.
The "Uzbekistan" I'm referring to is the restaurant. There's a restaurant called Uzbekistan near my house, and it needs to die.
Some background: I've been to Uzbekistan four times in my life. The first three occasions occurred years ago. I remember that it was right after I graduated college because I was still living with my parents while I was saving up for a house. I would drive over there with my parents for family birthday parties, and I would dread every second of it. I recall not liking anything on the menu on the first two trips. The third time we went, I felt like I was there for hours. After eating some disgusting food, the waiter simply ignored us. He refused to give us the check, so we just sat there like a**holes for an eternity. I remember ducking out of the restaurant because it was so cramped that it made me feel claustrophobic. I called some girl I was sort of into at the time, talked to her on the phone for about 45 minutes, and then returned to the table where my family still hadn't received the check yet.
Ever since, I've seethed whenever driving by Uzbekistan - it's on the way home from the gym - and it's even worse when I'm with someone in the car. This is a typical exchange:
Passenger: Ooohh, Uzbekistan! I wonder if that's any good...
Me: NO IT SUCKS IT'S F***ING TERRIBLE DON'T EVEN GO THERE IT'S THE F***ING WORST FOOD EVER AND THEY TAKE FOREVER TO BRING OUT THE CHECK AND IT'S SO F***ING CLAUSTROPHOBIC IN THERE THAT YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WANT TO DIE BUT YOU MIGHT DIE FROM THEIR DISGUSTING FOOD FIRST IT'S THE WORST RESTAURANT OF ALL TIME IF YOU EVER INVITE ME THERE FOR A PARTY I WILL KILL YOU MOTHERF***ER!!!
The fourth time I went to Uzbekistan was very recent, unfortunately. I got a call from my mom the day before my dad's birthday...
Mom: Hey, remember that we're going out to eat for your dad's birthday tomorrow night.
Me: Oh, OK. Where are we going?
Mom: We're going to Uzbekistan. Meet us there at 7 o'cl...
Me: NO NOT UZBEKISTAN OH MY F***ING GOD THIS IS A F***ING NIGHTMARE THAT WE HAVE TO GO BACK THERE AGAIN DON'T YOU REMEMBER HOW F***ING TERRIBLE IT WAS JESUS F***ING CHRIST I'M GOING TO DIE TOMORROW BUT I DON'T KNOW IF I'LL DIE FIRST FROM THE HORRIBLE FOOD OR THE BOREDOM OF WAITING FOR A CHECK FOR FIVE F***ING HOURS OR THE F***ING CLAUSTROPHOBIA BECAUSE IT'S SO F***ING CRAMPED IN THERE WHY THE F*** ARE WE GOING THERE I'D RATHER GO TO SOME GOD DAMN JAPANESE RESTAURANT THAN F***ING UZBEKISTAN THE WORST F***ING RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD!!!
Mom: Calm down, Walt. It's not that bad.
Not that bad!? Ha! Getting bitten by a poisonous snake is "not that bad." Getting run over by a truck is "not that bad." Getting your penis chopped off in Theon Greyjoy-type fashion is "not that bad." Going to Uzbekistan is f***ing terrible.
I'd call being able to write a Jerks of the Week entry on Uzbekistan a silver lining, but that would be a lie. I would've rather not gone at all, even if it meant obtaining 500 Jerks of the Week entries. The fact that I made it out alive isn't a silver lining either. I would've rather faced 500 deaths than one meal at that God-forsaken place.
Nevertheless, I did go to Uzbekistan, so here's a recap of my miserable time there:
As you can imagine, I had extreme difficulty ordering food. Nothing looked good at first glance. Every single description had the word "mushroom" in it.
Now, I know some of you reading this may like mushrooms. If so, screw you. Mushrooms are the worst. They're disgusting. The only ones I'd be willing to eat would be the ones that are red and white because they make you grow big, or the green and white ones because they give you an extra life. Unfortunately, I have not seen mushrooms like these; the ones that come on pizzas are brown and slimy, and they certainly don't help you kill turtles that are mindlessly marching toward you.
"Look," my girlfriend said, pointing to something on the menu. "They have fried ravioli. You like that!"
Indeed. And I'd order it if we were in an Italian restaurant. But I wouldn't dare touch that in an Uzbekistani operation. Rather than fill the ravioli with regular meat and cheese, they'd probably use rat meat and cat cheese, both of which I wasn't in the mood for. And then there's the question of sauce. Italians use normal spaghetti sauce, but that hasn't been invented yet in the country of Uzbekistan, so what would they use instead? Just plain old butter? Borscht? The tears of Uzbekistani orphans who cry themselves to sleep every night because they can't seem to beat Oregon Trail? No thanks.
Half the menu was written in Russian, so it was difficult to find stuff I recognized. Then, I saw it. It was written in small letters, so I missed it the first five times I glossed over the page: Chicken wings.
I suddenly had a smile on my face. Maybe this dinner won't be so bad after all, I thought. Unfortunately, my hopes and dreams were shattered when I told my parents what I was ordering.
Me: I think I'm getting the chicken wings.
Mom: No, you don't come to Uzbekistan to order chicken wings.
Dad: You want chicken wings!? They have so much great food here, and all you want is chicken wings!?
Me: Yeah, why not?
Mom: You can't have chicken wings.
Dad: It's my birthday, so you're going to order something good. No chicken wings!
OK, then. My sister recommended that I order something called "Samsa."
Me: What the hell is that? If it's anything like how Sansa Stark has been treated this season, I don't want any part of it.
Sister: SaMsa; not SaNsa!
Me: Even still, it sounds too risky.
My mom then suggested the beef stroganoff, which didn't sound too bad until I read in the description that it comes with mushrooms and sour cream.
Ugh. Why? I don't get the point of meals coming with stuff like that. Ordering something like mushrooms and sour cream should be optional sides for beef stroganoff. Why ruin something half-not terrible with awful things? It's like going to a pizza place, and only being able to order a pizza with pubes and feces as toppings. Sure, you can ask for pizza without pubes and feces, but what if the chef forgets, or puts some secret pubes and feces in your food just to mess with you?
I ended up ordering something called "spring leaf chicken," which sounded somewhat edible. Sure, I was wary of Uzbekistan claiming that it grew its chicken on trees, but the dish didn't contain any mushrooms or sour cream, so I assumed it was safe.
I suspected the possibility of the Uzbekistani waitress bringing out our drinks after the meal, or something crazy like that, but she gave us a pitcher of water before our salads and soups had arrived. At least that was normal.
The drink menu, however, was not. I forgot to mention that bit when I was talking about ordering food, but here's what it looked like:
Drinks! Water - Tea - Coffee - Juice - Milk - Soda
Soda? Juice? Care to elaborate a little? Do you have Coke or Pepsi? Do you have anything else like Sprite or Ginger Ale? How about orange soda? What kind of juice do you have? And what's up with "milk?" Who the hell orders milk with their meal? Is there some Russian a**hole who goes to Uzbekistan and goes, "I vood like beef strogaoffsky vis samsa starks vis extaroo mushroom and sour creams vis big glass of milk and can put mushroom in milk, to please?"
I would've ordered soda in a normal restaurant, but I knew better this time. My experiences with Russian restaurants have taught me that any soda you might order won't be carbonated. You might see bubbles, but they're just the decorations on the pitcher. I'm dead serious. Every single soda I've ever ordered in a Russian restaurant has been as flat as a pancake. If Russia hasn't invented carbonation yet, then Uzbekistan sure as hell doesn't have it.
I assumed the water would be fine, but I instantly noticed that there was small brown crap floating around in it, almost as if it was someone else's backwash. I nearly gagged, though the salad saved me. Believe it or not, they actually had Caesar salad. I was shocked. I always want to bring emergency supplies (**) to horrible restaurants, and one of the things in my kit would be a bottle of Caesar dressing. I later realized that it would make sense for Uzbekistan to have Caesar dressing because Julius Caesar conquered the country long ago (maybe?), but it was still a nice surprise.
(**) I keep forgetting to put my restaurant kit together. This would be comprised of ketchup, barbeque sauce, queso, Ranch dressing, Caesar dressing, lemon iced tea, and other things. You see, some restaurants lack these essential condiments/dressings/drinks, so I need to bring these things along sometimes. "Oh, you don't have lemon iced tea, Olive Garden? Good thing I brought my own! Oh, you only have sour cream to dip your chicken and potatoes in, crappy Russian restaurant? Good thing I brought my ketchup, barbeque sauce and queso!" I think I'm a genius for coming up with this system, but I have yet to implement it.
I will admit that my entree wasn't disgusting. It wasn't good either, though. The spring leaf chicken was super dry, almost as if the Uzbekistani people plucked it off a tree, so it was hard to eat because I was trying my hardest to avoided drinking the polluted water. I made sure to sip around the brown backwash specks, but even that was difficult.
Fortunately, my spring leaf chicken came with a side of potatoes and rice. The latter was decent, though I didn't get much. The potatoes had the potential to be the best part, but...
Mom: How's your food?
Me: It's OK. Chicken's dry. Potatoes are better, but they need ketchup.
Girlfriend: Why don't you ask for ketchup?
Me: Ask for ketchup? There's no way in hell they have ketchup. Uzbekistan hasn't invented ketchup yet!
Girlfriend: You're such a dick! Stop yelling!
Me: What? It's true. You think they have Heinz factories in Uzbekistan?
Sister: We're not in Uzbekistan! We're in America!
Me: So why the hell are we eating in Uzbekistan?
Seriously. If everyone wanted crappy food so badly, why not board a plane, fly over to Uzbekistan, try some of their disgusting "cuisine" and then play Oregon Trail with the locals?
The fact of the matter is, people in Uzbekistan board cargo ships and starve themselves in the process just to come to America. They all crave freedom, good food like bacon cheeseburgers and games where you can't die of dysentery. Imagine the look on an Uzbekistani immigrant child's face when he gets a PS4 for Christmas, or the expression on his face when he dips a French fry into ketchup instead of sour cream for the first time. Do you think he yearns to go back to an Internet-less land where sour cream and mushrooms are the only condiments?
I highly doubt it. I simply can't imagine that plucking chickens off a tree can be very fun. No wonder Uzbekistanis cherish Oregon Trail so much; it's their only reprieve from the chicken-tree fields.