To view a slide show featuring images of naan, Afghans, and more, click here.
The orange sun had just come out of the blue waters of Helmand river. The Afghan soldier standing guard at the top of a tower in a military camp along the river was on his second cigarette, Benson & Hedges, he said. He rested the burning cigarette on top of the machine gun mounted on pile of sacks filled with sand and cement--an improvised bunker meant to stop incoming bullets--and picked up a giant loaf of bread. He tore a small piece from it, dipped it halfway into his teacup, and put it in his mouth.
"Fast food, you see," he said. "Morning, afternoon, evening, it's always naan time."
I watched him eat the giant loaf of naan, occasionally sipping from the glass, which still had boiled tea leaves floating on the edges, then finish with a loud belch. He was good to fight until that afternoon, he said.
Nothing beats the uniquely Afghani character of naan (not even the sophisticated suicide bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices that local terrorists have become so well versed at making). Known as naan-e-Afghani, this long loaf of bread is considered the national bread of Afghanistan. In fact, naan is so popular in Afghanistan that, according to one local policeman, Genghis Khan's army used to take loaves of it on journeys during battle.