Georgian Food in Russia – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports
[A plate of peppers with walnut paste and pomegranate seeds]
[Welcome to Georgia: even little tchkatches display legendary Georgian hospitality]
When people think of food in Russia, they tend to think of simple and hearty fare, i.e. borscht with sour cream, rye bread, and caviar. However, if you have the opportunity to travel to Russia, locals and foreigners alike will most likely recommend Georgian food above “traditional” Russian fare. Georgia is a small nation nestled in the Caucasus Mountains that used to be part of the Soviet Union before achieving independence in 1991. Due to these close geographical and cultural ties, Georgian dishes spread throughout Russia and the former USSR and are still beloved throughout the region to this day. Russians view Georgian food as a jazzier alternative to their relatively simple fare; the appeal is somewhat comparable to the zest that some Americans have for “spicier” Mexican and Central American offerings. That reverence is highly justifiable, as Georgian food uses an eclectic array of ingredients to create many unbelievable delicious dishes.
[Dolmas (meat or cheese wrapped in grape leaves) slathered in yogurt and chives]
[A tomato and vegetable stew ]
[Meat and veggie kebabs (and yes: that is a real flame in the center of the plate)]
First and foremost, no Georgian dinner table is complete without bountiful stacks of khachapuri, or delicious cheese-stuffed bread, and copious amounts of Georgian wine. Side dishes that often feature eggplants, peppers, walnuts and walnut pastes, pomegranate seeds, yogurt, and coriander round out the dining options. While Georgian food provides a number of vegetarian entrees, many Georgians revere spicy meat kebabs, or sashliki, as the highlight of the meal. Desserts such as baklava, dried fruits, or pelamushi (grape pudding) help diners end their meals on a sweet note. In addition to the actual food itself, Georgian culture stresses incredible generosity and hospitality towards its guests. When you go to a Georgian restaurant, the waiters make sure that neither your cup nor your plate are ever empty. Furthermore, they give you generous portions and encourage (if not borderline threaten) you to eat as much as possible! While these attitudes can make the dining experience physically painful, the emphasis on graciousness and conscientiousness makes the food and atmosphere even more appealing. With all of these factors in mind, I definitely recommend trying Georgian fare if the opportunity ever arises, as it proves for a truly outstanding culinary and cultural experience.
Marin Ekstrom serves as a senior editor for The North Star Reports.
Please contact Professor Liang if you wish to write for The North Star Reports — HLIANG (at) css.edu
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