August 31, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Culture, Food and wine, Travel, Travels in Asia, Travels in Europe

Georgian foodsIt’s true. I’ve been cheating on my dear Spanish food not only with Turkish desserts, but also with Georgian cuisine. What can I say – I’m a tad unfaithful and culinarily promiscuous. But when it comes to food, I’m just not a one-cuisine kind of gal! Let me introduce to you to my latest food love affair.

Breads
Bread is king in Georgia. These people eat bread like it’s the last day of their life – multiple kinds of bread at breakfast, lunch and dinner. And I get why – because it’s off-the-charts good. The most famous of the breads is the lavashi. Often made in a signature oblong shape, the soft, squishy bread is perfect for eating by itself, with a Georgian cheese, or just soaking and scooping up whatever you have on your plate. My other bread favorite was mchadi – a cornmeal based patty typically served hot and which Georgians love to slice in half, stuff with cheese and eat like a sandwich (genius!!).

mchadi georgia
Khachapuri
Hello, Georgian pizza, can you please come back to Spain with me? This little delight mixes the scrumptiousness of the aforementioned bread, with, you guessed it – cheese! Across the country you’ll find different variations from cheese on top, to cheese inside. Batumi, the beachside town that Eastern Europeans flock to, even boasts its own special version – a boat-shaped bread that cradles a mixture of melted cheese, a semi-fried egg and a slice of butter, all which you must mush up with your fork and then eat until you explode or have a heart attack (whichever comes first).

khachapuri, Georgia
Pastries
I spent my first several days in Georgia thinking that the only sweets that those folks ate included watermelon (I’m still not amused – sorry, Georgia). But after nagging a little, my Georgian amiga, Sophia, revealed her country’s sweet tooth – a sweet tooth fulfilled by some finger-licking-good pastries. My favorite, kada, is basically just a fat roll of what I would consider to be crumbly pie crust. I know, why didn’t anyone think of this sooner, right?? Then there’s a sumptuous cream-filled pastry, called shu, that I may as well just bag and hook up to an IV drip. Why they don’t eat this stuff with the same reckless abandon as they do bread and watermelon is just plain beyond me.

pastries, georgia, kada
coffee float, georgiaCoffee float
On hot summer days, it’s not uncommon to see locals slurping their Georgian-style coffee floats through colorful straws. And it should be mentioned that Georgians do love their ice cream – a fluffy, almost whipped frozen treat that often comes prepackaged in soggy cones. Kind of sounds unappetizing, but I’m not going to lie – it hit the spot (apparently I have a lot of spots).

Herby, spiced, crack-filled (OK, maybe not crack) sauces
For a good portion of our trip, Sophia hesitated introducing us to the more flavorful (read: spiced and spicy) Georgian cuisine for fear that we wouldn’t like it. Apparently past guests (many of which were Spaniards who are averse to spicy cuisine) didn’t care for the dishes. One taste, though, and we were s.m.i.t.t.e.n. Served with meats or veggies, the chashushuli sauce is typically mixed with fresh herbs like cilantro and dill, and spices such as hot pepper and flavored salt. The result is an irresistible concoction that I would eat everyday of my life on and with just about anything that I can get my hands on. In fact, I’m pretty sure I can’t be friends with someone who for some reason doesn’t love it. If you like Indian or Southeast Asian cuisine, then I promise you will be obsessed with this dish too.

veggie dish

Honorable mention
Georgia serves up several other universally loved dishes that I too enjoyed, but not with the same embarrassing passion as those mentioned above. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention khinkali, which basically looks like giant dim sum (and kind of tastes like it too). To eat it Georgian style, pick it up with your hands and take a bite of the base, slurping up its broth while you eat.

Then there are also the kebaps, which come as crepe-wrapped ground-beef. The meat is blended with the same mixture of fresh herbs and spices as the crack-sauce mentioned above. Dipped in a little Georgian ketchup (not really ketchup, the tkhemali is a sweet-meets-sour sauce made of a fruit similar to plums) and you’ve got yourself a winning combination.

Still curious about Georgia? Don’t forget to read more about my impressions on what makes Georgia unique.

17 Responses to “Georgian food love affair”

  1. Sabrina Says:

    Who knew Georgian food was this delicious!? Granted, I have never been there, but how come I’ve never heard of it either? I love bread (duh, I’m German!) and this pastry looks amazing. Since there’s no chance I’ll be in Georgia anytime soon, I think I’ve got to befriend a Georgian and make him/her invite me for home-cooked meals… On that same note, I just came back from England and was surprised about how many yummy things I found there (post to come). Whoever said English food wasn’t good?

  2. Erin Says:

    I think it doesn’t help that Georgia was kind of closed off from the rest of the world while under Soviet rule. Apparently there are some good Georgian restaurants in New York though, so I might have to check that out whenever I pay NYC a visit next. Until then, my friend Sophia is going to be growing mighty sick of me trying to plan dinners at her house.

    English food….hmmm. I’m not convinced. Looking forward to hearing about it in your posts to come!

  3. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures Says:

    OMG I would easily gain 10 pds in a week there!!! The food looks insanely delicious!

  4. Erin Says:

    Seriously, if I didn’t spend my time there sweating my weight in water (it was crazy hot and humid!), then I probably would have gained 10 lbs. Actually, I’ve effectively avoided the scale since my return, so for all I know I gained 20. Ha!

  5. katja Says:

    i could totally just read blogposts on food all day long. this stuff looks YUM!

  6. Erin Says:

    Agreed! It’s slightly torturous, but addictive!

  7. Sarah Says:

    It was a blissful day for me when I discovered Khachapuri. I’ve been spending a lot of time in Estonia and Russia and, lucky for me, Georgian food is very easy to come by there. It’s surprisingly hard to find in London, where I am now, but I hope it has its chance to shine soon. It’s delicious!

  8. Erin Says:

    Really, in Estonia, huh? My Georgian friend told me that the Russians love Georgian food, but I guess it made its way to Estonia too. I imagine it’s only a matter of time before it’s more ubiquitous (especially if I have anything to do with it!). My Georgian friend just returned to Spain today – I hope to have a culinary catch up with her ASAP!

  9. Andrea Says:

    Oh wow! So glad I found this post. Fingers crossed I make it to Georgia this summer.

  10. Erin Says:

    You must go! It’s such a very cool country – the landscape and food far exceeded anything I could have imagined. Really impressive.

  11. DrWhodini Says:

    I’ve just returned to Spain after two years in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital.
    i concur with everything Erin says. The people, the food and some strange, unidentifiable ‘quality’ that made me feel like I had found ‘home’.
    Khajapuri (or sometimes xajapuri – puri means ‘bread’) is just perfect, but try to avoid the supermarket bought ones. There are so many little shops that make this, or sell ‘independently made’ ones and, although they vary greatly from store to store, they are just perfect. The slightly salty taste of the cheese…. mmmm.

    There are many other foods that Elen hasn’t mentioned, Spinach based, walnut based,. So many different flavours. They are also great lovers of preserving and pickling. So you can enjoy peaches, cherries, tomatoes, and other fruit and vegetables throughout the year.

    Then there is Kvass (or Kvasi – Georgianpronunciation). It’s not cola, not beer, but something in between. It’s a black, bread based, summer drink that you ‘ferment’ for just about 1-2 days only. It’s sold on many street corners, by people sitting beside enormous barrels of the stuff, and available in some restaurants, I even made some myself. The flavour was a little different, but still very nice

    I’m a lucky guy. I met a fantastic lady who taught me how to make Xajapuri. I’m still trying to find a comparable Spanish cheese, but I’ll be able to enjoy this Georgian staple back here in Spain.

  12. Erin Says:

    You know how to make khachapuri?? I’m so jealous! Have you by any chance found any decent Georgian food here in Spain? Every once and awhile I go to my Georgian friend’s house here and she’ll whip of some of her local cuisine, but I think even she really struggles to replicate it. I’m quite envious that you got to spend two years there in Tbilisi getting to know the Georgian culture, and especially the food! I’m curious to know what brought you there!

  13. jbsaidj Says:

    Hi! grear post! you said you weren’t impressed by the sweets but… Have yu tasted churckhela, tklapi( semi sour semi sweet )gurian pie? -guruoli gvezeli in Georgian, nazuki(Georgian sweet bread which is not very common un the capital byt its really delicious sweet from the Imereti region) ,pelamushi (Georgian ”pudding” consisting of grape juice, gozinaki(nuts with honey), and tenili kveli(not common in the capital and comes from meskheti region but the technique of making it is really amazing, it,s cheese noodles with wgipped cream. Meskhetians eat it at new year since its very difficult to make it and takes alot of time. Google it. Other sweets are such as borano and sinori from the ajara region. Matsoni is a Georgian yoghurt. Btw shu isnt Georgian… Its french? but its common to eat it in Georgia 🙂 ohhh and we have pakhlava too… So yeah there are alot of Georgian delicious sweets which you missed out 🙁

  14. jbsaidj Says:

    hi again, I rbemember we have also chiri ( which is very common in Georgia and is a dried fruit) Here is pics of it:,http://m.ipress.ge/new/18915-qartuli-khurmis-chiri-evropis-bazarze-iyideba

  15. jbsaidj Says:

    and then there is also Georgian honey made of Mulberry… It’s called bakmazi and is common in Meskheti not in the capital…

  16. jbsaidj Says:

    and matsoni is a thick sour Georgian yoghurt( very common throught Georgia)

  17. jbsaidj Says:

    sorry for being so annoying but i found one juce which i forvot to mention. badagi is a georgian grape jiice which is very thick and is used for making churckhela and pelamushi. here is the recipee https://georgianrecipes.net/2013/10/11/badagi/

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