When one thinks of Georgia and food which dish hits the mind firstly? That without any doubts should be something meaty. Ok, and let’s add the gorgeous red Georgian wine too. Of course, such thinking wouldn’t be wrong because of being absolutely true. However, vegetarians will find there their own culinary heaven too. Sure, the culinary heaven, which at the end will definitely lead to the long hours of workout in the gym, but some things in life are worth the sin.
Our first acquaintance with traditional Georgian food was when our marshrutka driver stopped for a brunch in one eatery on the road. I would never go there by myself and I could ensure that you wouldn’t go too. Both from the outside and inside it looked like a crappy shanty, but our curiosity conquered all, so when we were brought in this unique place, we’ve just said: “Let’s do it”. There nobody needed to order anything: the waitress-look-like lady in the rural-style outfit just started bringing on our table the plates after plates and the platter after platters, filled up with different traditional dishes: from local cheese, fresh salads and bread to marinated mushrooms and khinkali (to the previous one I’ll definitely come back later). Let’s not forget the jars of wine, so common in Georgia, too! This brunch actually seemed like a royal wedding somewhere in Georgian village and all of us remained positively surprised. However, I do not think that every food-serving-shack on the road may be good, but listening to the recommendations of the locals can lead to the unexpected discoveries.
So, sometimes food may be served without a request, but in other cases – you’ll definitely get the menus. By the way, it was interesting to find them all with the translations in English. So, even strict vegetarians don’t need to be too worried about finding out how to explain their dietary attitudes – all is simply written down in an understandable way.
Once in Georgia, missing khachapuri would be like a sin. It’s their traditional bread, usually filled up with cheese, eggs or other ingredients, which is really oh so good. And, I’m totally not surprised why locals prefer it even over the pizza: if some breads are meant to be like the companions next to other dishes, khachapuri may deservedly stand up as a main course.
If speaking about bread, so probably the heaviest possible its version we’ve tried in Georgia too. It’s the one called lobiani, baked with beans filling. For all vegetarians should be interesting to taste it out.
Khinkali – one more accessory in Georgian cuisine. These traditional dumplings, being made with various stuffings, are really popular in there. Despite the fact that the meaty ones are the leaders, but I really didn’t get disappointed with potatoes’, mushrooms’ and white cheese’s fillings. In restaurants you’re being charged for units of dumplings ordered, but usually they never serve less than five or six. So, it’s a totally good idea to try khinkali in a bigger group or come to eatery with an empty stomach.
If you find fresh vegetable salads with walnuts’ sauce – never skip them. Once, when speaking of food, I’ve already written about the simplicity, which is able to create perfection: like the Shopska salad in Macedonia, so the same – vegetable salad with walnut sauce in Georgia.
By the way, seems that walnuts really take an important part in Georgian cuisine. They are being used not only for the dressing of previously mentioned salad, but let’s say in the preparation of special bean soup or mkhali cold dish with spinach leaves too. For the vegetarians, who like experimenting, these are really very good choices to try!
When walking down the Georgian streets your eyes will stick onto colourful sausage-shaped sweets – don’t pass by and stop for a try! These looking-like-plastic creations are being called churchkhela what is nothing more than different types of nuts, covered with thickened grape juices. Usually this sweet is recommended as one of the best choices to bring back to your country as a sprinkle of Georgian cuisine. We tried churchkhela, we liked its taste and we really bought them later. Just have in mind that those, openly hanging in the streets, are way much more delicious than the beautifully-packed ones, being sold in airport shops.
Is that a time for a drink? Then, don’t hesitate to try the almost neon–green local lemonade, made with tarragon. Its taste has nothing in common with the black–orange–crystal clear soft drinks we are used to drink!
On the menus of Georgian restaurants usually there is a really wide offer of dishes. As we were travelling in this country in a company that gave us a possibility to make ourselves tastings by taking different traditional foods. So that’s why we were never safe from the over–ordering…
Cutlery serving singularities in Georgian restaurants as well couldn’t be unnoticed…
If I’d need to name the Georgian cuisine, a word “rural” would definitely be in use. So, the ones who like really simple–looking but good-tasting food are about to find the paradise in this welcoming country. Ah, and all the world’s vegetarians too! Buon appetito!
By Gintarė Adamonytė