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Follow those dumplings: Food ideas along the Silk Road (with samples of chakchak)

Follow those dumplings: Food ideas along the Silk Road (with samples of chakchak)
Historian Charles Perry discusses food ideas that traveled the Silk Road. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

The Silk Road -- not the anonymous online black market for drugs but the trade route that was a significant part of the development of civilizations in China, the Middle East and Europe -- is the focus of a lecture series at the Natural History Museum. On Thursday at 7 p.m., food historian Charles Perry will discuss the spread of food ideas along the Silk Road.

Perry will follow the influence of the Middle East to China and back again. The introduction of millstones from Iran made wheat flour and Iranian-style dumplings possible in China. Some dishes invented in what's now Uzbekistan spread west to the Middle East in the 9th century. And at some unknown date several centuries ago, Central Asian countries learned of the Indian chapatti. Later, a Central Asian pastry named chakchak appealed to the Manchus and is still made in China, called saqima. Try a chakchak dumpling sample at the lecture.

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The lecture is free and will take place in the Grand Foyer. 900 Exposition Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 763-3466, www.nhm.org.

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