What to know about Georgian cuisine, which was once considered the best in the Soviet Union
Traditional Georgia food is not what you might think but is indeed better – here’s how to enjoy it and the culture of this unique country.
Georgia might be a small country, but it’s a treasure trove of culinary delights – it’s for those who love bread, meat, and lots and lots of cheese washed down with lots and lots of wine or “chacha“(more details later). Georgia is an emerging destination popular for its awe-inspiring mountains, unparalleled hospitality (the saying goes” a guest is a gift from God “) and food that will delight any foodie.
It should be noted that Georgian cuisine is not well suited to lactose intolerant, vegetarian or gluten intolerant foodies. But if there are no urgent dietary restrictions, we’re going to love Georgian cuisine. This is another reason why Georgia must be on your bucket list.
It runs deep in the blood
Gourmet Georgian cuisine is something that everyone (especially grandmothers – known in the country as “bebie“) know how to do and do well. It is incredibly cheap and delicious. In Soviet times and even today, there are many Georgian restaurants in Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. These are the high-end restaurants – French restaurants if you will.
- The Soviet era: Georgian restaurants were very tasty
- Ingredients: Lots of cheese, meat, bread and potatoes
It’s impossible to cover all Georgian cuisines here, but here are some of the highlights.
Georgians are absolute masters in making different types of cheese. Each family has a family cow (dzrokha) which is hand-milked every morning and the fresh milk is made into a multitude of different cheeses. During a stay with the locals, it is not uncommon to see women going about their daily occupations and to see three generations (the grandmother, the mother and the daughter) making the cheeses.
- Cheese: Handcrafted in the village from the family cow
- What to expect: Cheese, more cheese, other cheeses (with a serving of accompanying cheese)
The sky is the limit to how these cheeses are used. One thing is guaranteed, we will discover many new types of delicious cheese.
khachapuri directly translates to “cheese bread”. In most of Georgia, it’s cheese encased in bread. It may not seem like much, but it’s really delicious and great as a snack. It’s also the perfect meal to take on a hike. Compact, dense, high in energy and delicious.
- Bread: The bread is delicious on its own
A note on Georgia bread or “puri“, it’s hard to overstate how important bread is to Georgians. They make their bread incredibly delicious and it is in high demand in the post-Soviet space. They make their bread so good that it is common to Watching them eat their bread Beware: it can be difficult to adapt to the poor quality bread that you may be used to in the West.
Advice: Restaurant Racha in the capital Tbilisi offers unparalleled food (expect stoic Soviet service and a translated English menu that makes no sense)
One morning for breakfast, you have to try “Ajarian KhachapuriBut first you have to be really hungry – and a full English breakfast will never be called a ‘big breakfast’ again. This is made on a fresh bread base, with lots and lots of melted cheese. and butter, it’s so hot hot that an egg is then put in the middle and the heat of the bread and cheese cooks it.
- Breakfast: To try Ajarian Khachapuri At least one time
To eat it, you have to tear the bread from the outside, dip it in cheese, butter and the egg in the middle. You may need to rest after eating.
These are Georgian dumplings. They are big dumplings and a source of national pride for Georgians. They come with different types of meat and are filled with gravy. These are essentials.
Advice: If there are no Georgian restaurants in your area, search for Armenian restaurants
To eat them, you have to use your hands. If they give you a fork, it’s because you’re a foreigner – don’t use it. Pick it up, bite into the side, drink the juice, then eat the dumpling but not the stork. They will look and probably notice, “oh you know how to eat Georgian khinkali! “
Wine & Chacha
Drinking in Georgia is, well, different. If one is their guest, one expects them to take full advantage of the drinks. Drinking is very cultural in Georgia, and not drinking as a guest is almost an insult. They are very passionate about their wine and they are famous throughout the post-Soviet space for having the best wine (mainly red wine).
- While drinking: As a guest he is expected to enjoy spirits
If you drink in a restaurant, you can drink normally, sipping slowly – but not as a guest. In short, you only drink from toast and you have to drink the whole glass (the glasses are also different). If in the evening you are very fiery (literally), the host will be very happy that he has fulfilled his role of host.
Chacha is the other alcoholic beverage they drink. It is a clear marc brandy made from grape marc after making wine. If you buy it in stores, it can contain more than 40% alcohol. In the village, expect homebrew (most liquor is homebrew) to be over 65%.
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