Sublime. The only word I need to express what I think of Georgian food. As to how I feel about it, is there a word stronger than love?
I’m not a foodie, gastronome, epicure, food critic, etc. I’m a simple person that like most other humans out there enjoys eating good food. Consuming food, after all, is an essential part of our existence so we might as well enjoy it. Having said that I must now admit it’s not always easy doing so. Particularly when you are traveling and the options in front of you are not your cup of tea. Other times though you arrive somewhere where the food is so superb it blows your mind. Georgia was the latter.
I don’t know about you but I had never heard of Georgian food so when I had that first taste I was completely unprepared. I still remember it. The first bite of Georgian food I had was eggplant with walnuts. I think my tastebuds went crazy right then and there. It was love at first bite. The flavours! The texture! It wasn’t like anything I’d had before, both delicate and strong.
I soon discovered they use walnuts copiously in their cuisine. Not only where the numerous dishes featuring walnuts on menus a proof of this but on a trip to the market I discovered a whole section of it devoted to walnuts! Not nuts in general, just walnuts. Piles and piles of them.
If you are allergic to nuts be careful, there’re plenty of delicious dishes without nuts but make sure you ask before ordering. One that surprised me in this regard was Lobio. Lobio is something like a thick bean soup – the best description I found for it online was when someone said it was a cross between refried beans and soup. The surprising thing is that some people add minced walnuts to it. Seriously, walnuts in a bean soup?! I would never have thought to ask if bean soup had walnuts!! So if you are allergic to nuts be careful and make sure you ask for the ingredients of everything you eat!
Luckily I’m not allergic to nuts so I had Lobio several times. This amazing bean soup always comes in a little earthenware pot but sadly, although I had it several times, I never once took a photo of it!!!!! So below you can find a photo of a chicken and walnuts dish I had that was served in the same little earthenware pots that lobio is usually served in.
And then there’s khinkali. OMG! These “dumplings” are so amazing I think I could have them everyday and not get tired… actually I think I might feel like that about most Georgian food. Anyways, back to Khinkali, they are super juicy dumplings that if not eaten properly will have you covered in “khinkali drizzle”. There’s a proper etiquette to avoid this. You need to hold them by the end where the folds meet and when you bite into them , slurp up all the juice before proceeding to eat the rest, minus the “knob” which you just leave behind on your plate.
They come in different varieties. The most common ones are meat based but vegetarian options are possible. Cheese, potato and mushroom. The mushroom ones being by far my favourite. In fact, they are the ones pictured above. Oh, and mushroom khinkali tend to be smaller than the other varieties, not sure why that is.
The last dish I want to mention is Kachapuri. Like khinkali this dish is so emblematic of the country that souvenir shops sell fridge magnets of them! Anyways, what is Kachapuri? Basically it is cheese filled bread. A special version of it also comes with an egg and butter on top. Needless to say its a VERY filling dish. But unlike all the other Georgian dishes I must confess that this one didn’t win me over. Its good enough, just not marvelous.
I don’t want to bore you with an infinite list of all the marvelous dishes I had so I’ll stop now and tell you to: 1- Get yourself to Georgia and discover your own favourite dishes ASAP! 2- If you are lucky enough to have a Georgian restaurant nearby don’t waste time and go patronize it. 3- If none of the above are viable options then I’ll direct you to the amazing blog I found featuring all manner of Georgian recipes. I made the eggplant with walnuts using their recipe and it turned out great.