Georgian Cuisine and Culture of Eating
We had a unique perspective on the food in Georgia. We were staying with a family in the mountains outside of Kobuleti. Only the father, Gela, was working. Hatuna, the mother was taking care of the house and cooking all the time. Grandma and grandpa were tending to their land – they had three cows, about 10-12 chickens, and loads of fruit trees. They also grow their own veggies and even tea!
Georgia’s 50% unemployment rate had a couple of interesting side effects: people spend a lot more time with their families and many people grow or raise their own food. In turn, these two things actually turn every meal into a feast:
They make their own cheese and quark (a breakfast food similar to cottage cheese). Their homemade cheese was really awesome:
A homemade breakfast pastry covered in butter and garlic, mixed with some quark:
Georgia’s signature dish, khinkali, which is much like Russian manti. It’s a large (nearly fist-sized) meat dumpling that’s boiled, covered with black pepper, and then eaten by hand. While cooking, the juices from the meat are trapped inside the dumpling. On the first bite, you also drink the juice. Very tasty!
If there are some left over, they’re fried to reheat them for the next meal:
There is always fresh fruit or veggies on the table to snack on throughout the day. They had lots of peaches, nectarines, plums, and all kinds of berries. The tomato and cucumber salad was very tasty there too. Their family in Batumi also has a hazelnut tree and they offered for us to try them fresh:
Shish kebabs (shashliki), which are common all over eastern europe and the former USSR, were the best in Georgia. They’re usually eaten outdoors for special occasions – the meat is quite expensive for Georgians.
Pastries specific to the Adjara region, much like a less sweetened version of baklava and have pistachios inside:
A few Georgian sodas, including a peach-flavored one that seems to be the favorite and one that tasted like Vick’s 44 (not a fan, but Lena sure is):
Drinking is a big part of the Georgian culture. It’s common to make your own alcohol in a few different forms: wine and moonshine (called chacha). During dinner, one or both are offered along with long, heart-felt toasts. Wine is served in small glasses and you’re expected to drink most, if not all, of your glass after the toast. Chacha is a clear liquor and can range from 30-80% alcohol. It is served in shot glasses but the toasts and expectations of drinking, are however, the same. Sadly, we were too busy drinking chacha to take pictures of it, but here’s a shot of us drinking the homemade wine:
The Georgian food was great, but the company was even better. Georgians know how to enjoy the important things in life!