Georgian Food

Please note that the contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. Government or the Peace Corps. 

When I learned I was coming to Georgia I read up a little on the food and found out it was mostly bread, potatoes, and pork with some other foods thrown in. Other people said they'd heard Georgian food was so good it would make me fat. None of that research was really accurate, nor did it at all prepare me for the customs surrounding food.

First, yes, Georgian food is good. Like all food, you'll find your favorites and you may even go "ew" at some things. There's only been a couple of dishes that haven't sat well with me, but I had those predilections before coming (e.g. I don't like mushrooms, eggplant, fish, or straight up eggs). There's also been a couple of dishes that surprised me in a good way. 

This is fancy ხათჩაპური. The dough is formed into a boat with hot cheese in the center. A raw egg and pat of butter floats on the cheese. To eat, you tear off pieces of bread and stir them in the center, mixing it all. You generally only see this in restaurants.

This is fancy ხათჩაპური. The dough is formed into a boat with hot cheese in the center. A raw egg and pat of butter floats on the cheese. To eat, you tear off pieces of bread and stir them in the center, mixing it all. You generally only see this in restaurants.

Like with most societies, bread or პური (puri) is the staple food stuff. It is served with every meal and combined with other foods. A simple recipe is ხათჩაპური (khatchapuri). This combines cheese and bread far better than a grilled cheese sandwich ever did. Similarly, ლობიანი (lobiani) combines beans with bread. It manages to be surprisingly tasty, even served cold.  You can get some pretty insane combinations going too, like the ხათჩაპური shown here. This also means that the diet here is high in carbs.

Fruits and vegetables are very seasonal here. Right now many salads are good sized chunks of tomatoes and cucumbers, sometimes with seasoning. Now you may be furling your brow at the idea that this is "salad", but scoff not, for it is tasty (and nutritious). You can also find peppers (not bell), caper like things, onions, eggplant, mushrooms, and more.

It is thankfully very common to eat veggies raw, even veggies that we would consider garnishes. It was a bit of a shock at first to see someone pick up and eat a spring onion or shoot of parsley raw. Folks often fold these up or tie them in knots and dip them in salt. Naturally, taste buds will vary on this point.

For fruit, right now the stores carry oranges, apples, pomegranates, and kiwi. You can also find banana at the bazaar. Yes, that's a somewhat eclectic collection. There's also grape an peach juice. Fruit isn't a big part of the diet here, and that is probably the only downside for me; however, it may change as the season does.

As a quick aside, I used a pomegranate to teach my host family the origin of the seasons in Greek mythology. Though I expected it, I was a bit disappointed to learn there was no corresponding myth as to the origin of the seasons that any of them knew about.

Also, they cut oranges in rings. When I cut one in wedges and stacked them, my host mother liked it so much she took pictures. Only fair since I've taken pictures of Georgian food.

Meat wise, yes, there's pork. There's also more chicken than I predicted. Beef may be served sparingly, but it is still present. There's also fish. There's a lot of rivers in Georgia (possibly the most for an area its size in the world), but all the fish are pretty small (Guram was impressed by the size of fish we have in Washington). Meat is served in all manner of fashions except, I think, deep fried. There may be KFC in Tbilisi, but not out here. Given that everything tastes just fine, I don't think I'll miss that. Overall, there's not a huge amount of meat in your diet, like you have in America, but it is certainly there. Typically your protein intake is from both meat (including eggs) and beans, and it averages less than what you'd eat in America.

ხინკალი (khinkali) is a fun dish. It tastes a lot like Chinese pork dumplings but looks like it was twisted together like a toy top. You do not eat it with utensils unless you are looking to insult someone. You grab the twist, turn it over, and take a small bite out of the edge. You then suck/drink all the juices out before proceeding to eat what is inside.

There's other dishes of course, and you'll find that there's a lot of salt (its commonly used as a preservative) and mayonnaise (they just like it here). Also, the chocolate is almost always dark chocolate.

Oh, and don't eat the pizza. Seriously. I ordered pepperoni pizza to see what it was like. What arrived as a pizza crust with some bits of ham and some sliced veggies. It was all covered in white. That white was not melted cheese; it was mayonnaise. There was also no tomato sauce. We each tried it. None of us finished our piece.

In terms of drinks, there's wine, juice, wine, fanta, wine, beer, wine, tea, wine, coffee, and more wine. As I mentioned in a caption in my last post, almost everyone in Gori grows their own grapes. The vines are everywhere in the city. They grow along the streets. They grow in the small yards. They grow where you might otherwise hang laundry. Seriously, if there's a residence, there's more than likely grape vines. This also means that almost everyone makes their own wine too. Its a point of family pride. Also, I can't wait to see what they look like in full bloom.

When food is served there will often be too much, especially at a supra. I don't necessarily mean too much for you to eat; though, that is certainly true. There may be too much for the table to hold. New dishes will be stacked on top of old ones even if they still have unserved food on them. At restaurants, they may still be bringing out food by time you've had your fill. Despite all the food served at a supra, it is considered rude to take it home in a doggy bag (unless arrangements were made before hand).