Georgian Food in Russia – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

Georgian Food in Russia – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

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[A plate of peppers with walnut paste and pomegranate seeds]

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[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.

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[Dolmas (meat or cheese wrapped in grape leaves) slathered in yogurt and chives]

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[A tomato and vegetable stew ]

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[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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Hong-Ming Liang, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, The North Star Reports; Chief Editor, The Middle Ground Journal; Associate Professor of History and Politics, The College of St. Scholastica. Kathryn Marquis Hirsch, Managing Editor, The North Star Reports.

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21 Comments

Filed under Marin Ekstrom, North Star Student Editors, Professor Hong-Ming Liang

21 responses to “Georgian Food in Russia – by Marin Ekstrom. The North Star Reports: Global Citizenship and Digital Literacy, at NorthStarReports.org and facebook.com/NorthStarReports

  1. I enjoyed reading your article because it focused on food and I love food so much especially food I have never heard of before or tried. One thing that I was surprised while reading your article is the country Georgia didn’t become independent from the USSR until 1991. I honestly thought Georgia had been an independent country since it formation and never apart of the former USSR, but I’m glad you included background information for your reader that may or may not have known this fact about world history. I thought it was clever to compare Russia’s opinion on food from Georgian culture because it’s a ‘’jazzier alternative to their relatively simple fare’’ and how the U.S has a sense of zest for have ‘’spicier’’ Mexican and Central American offerings. You included how ‘’Georgian culture stresses incredible generosity and hospitality towards its guests’’ and it reminded me of the Benedictine values here at CSS. In conclusion I appreciate your article because of the focus on the cultural importance/impact of Georgian food in Russian culture.

  2. McKenna Holman

    You mention that often Russians will tell you to try this over traditional Russian foods, so when they have gatherings (holidays, parties, etc) are these dishes more common to see? Are there a lot of Georgian restaurants in Russia? What was your favorite Georgian dish? Now that I’ve seen all the pictures I really want to try it! There are definitely some interesting combinations in their dishes!

  3. All of the food you showed through pictures and described here in this article look delicious! I had actually never really thought about what kind cultural differences there in regards to the food in Russia…I’ve never thought about what “Russian” food is. I am not sure what that is either. I think if I had to guess it would be that I often think of Russia and politics, never Russia and food or culture. Now I know a lot more about it! Is it typical to see Georgian food as meals prepared in homes as well? Do you know much about the preparation of food? You also described the hospitality you received while eating at restaurants. Are meals a very communal thing in Russia? How long does a meal time usually last?

  4. Marin, you make eggplants, walnuts, and yogurt sound very posh and delicious. The photos look more appetizing than the Thanksgiving meal I had not too long ago. I appreciate the comparisons you made to provide us — individuals residing in the U.S — with a quick reference. Food always brings people together and something I find interesting is that even after Georgia won its independence, the inhabitants manage to create its own take on cuisines and now its known as Georgian food. Because 1991 isn’t that long ago.

  5. What beautiful descriptions of mouth-watering food! I think the historical and social connections that you draw about the food to be particularly interesting. The comment on the comparison between The United States’ incorporation of Mexican food seems particularly insightful. That led me to wonder- are there blends of Georgian and Russian foods? Are the Georgian foods offered in Russia similar to The United States’ “TexMex” blend? Furthermore, are other aspects of Georgian culture incorporated into Russia, or does it stop at the food?

  6. Megan Gonrowski

    I agree with one of the comments above that I have never heard of distinct Russian food. Only cultural things I think about when it comes to Russia is their unique architecture. I find it interesting that Georgian food has assimilated into Russian culture even after the collapse of the USSR. This just shows that once cultures mix it is hard for them to separate. The mixing of cultures can lead to a pretty interesting country. That is one reason I find America so great because if you go to any major city you can find a diversity of restaurants and markets. It was interesting to learn about Georgian food and I like how you compared it to Mexican food.

  7. Emily Hanson

    This article was extremely fun for me to read because, well, it involved food. You have a way to make it all seem so exciting and fun, even though almost everything sounds extremely underline healthy. I find it very humorous that dried fruits are considered to be a desert. Also, that they almost “force feed” you. I know very little about Russia and their food culture, I never even knew there has a subculture of Georgia! Thank you for sharing your experience and plates!

  8. Mary Tran

    I find it very interesting that locals and foreigners will most likely recommend Georgian food instead of traditional Russian food. Have you had a chance to try some traditional Russian food? Are there many restaurants that serve Georgian food in Russia? It’s fascinating that in the Georgian culture it stresses incredible generosity and hospitality towards guests. While at a restaurant, how long does a meal usually take? With the generous portions, do you know if people are often left with leftovers of the food that they cannot finish? What Georgian food(s) would you recommend to someone who has never had Georgian food? The photos of food you have on your article look delicious! They definitely make me want to try Georgian food! Thank you for sharing, Marin!

  9. Diana Mena

    The fact that your post was full of rich authentic food is amazing. The one thing a I love about food is how similar ingredients are between different dishes yet so many dishes are completely different. I had a roommate that was from Ukraine but her family lived in Russian and some of the dishes that you mentioned she has made herself or has mentioned. She also has talked about Georgia as well, which is very interesting, I wonder if this country’s food is a huge influence in Russia? I also know that preparing the food is very important to my roommate’s family, I wonder if that is all over Russia as well? I think this was a great article and interesting topic to talk about. Great post!

  10. Meghan Lozinski

    This article is very fitting as I was just reading a friend’s post claiming “Chipotle is what’s wrong with America” because we’ve taken another culture’s food and made it our own. Your description of the Georgian food in Russia seems as if those who eat it love the flavors and traditions surrounding the food, and why is that so bad to love and want to tweak and make your own? I think one of the easiest ways for us to share our cultures with one another is through food and with that food comes what you described in the restaurants, more sharing of more cultural ideas and practices.

  11. Thomas Landgren

    Thank you for sharing! In the beginning you said locals and foreigners alike will most likely recommend Georgian food above “traditional” Russian. Why is that? Is it just because of the taste? Or is it because it’s not known as harsher food? When it comes to a table spread like the one in the picture what is the most common or favorite dish? When it comes to preparing meals are Russian meals easier or hard to make compared to Georgian? I personally feel that food is a gateway into understanding a places culture. Great Article!

  12. Hannah Schaaf

    Nice post! The food looks so good! It was so intriguing to hear about how much hospitality the waiters had at the restaurant. That passage certainly reminded me of going to my grandmother’s house and having to eat whatever and how ever much she fed me! I thought that the similarities between the US and Mexican food, and that of Russia and Georgian food was really interesting! What was your favorite dish you where served? Happy travels!

  13. Christopher Killian

    Looks delicious! I find it interesting how the locals will recommend Georgian food above the “traditional” Russian fare. Also how interesting there is a flame in the middle of the dish with the meat and veggie kebabs. Which Georgian dish did you enjoy the most? Are there other traditions Russia has adopted from Georgia?

  14. Michaela Campbell

    Of all the things that one can choose to read about, I think foods of different cultures is always one of the most interesting. I feel completely ignorant in saying this, but I did not even know the existence of the nation, Georgia, and its’ history with the USSR. It is frightening that a nation, such as Georgia, gained independence as recently as 1991. However, I am grateful that the nation and the people of Georgia were able to keep a sense of their culture and identity through the way the make/create their own unique food options. Would you say that Georgian food has any similarities with things typically made in America? Do you feel the US could learn a thing or two with regards to Georgian hospitality? Great piece!

  15. Emily Bugni

    All I can say is yum. I never had the experience of wondering what kind of food was offered in Russia. I always assumed it was the same as what is offered in the US. I also think that it is very interesting that Russians prefer Georgian food over their traditional cuisines. I wonder who brought these new food ideas to Russia. Did the Russians put their own spin on foods from the US? Does the US have certain foods that are a spin off of from cuisines from Russia?

  16. Avnish Miyangar

    This article is an eye-opener. Makes you wonder how many dishes across the world there are to try. I was aware that other countries will have their own version of Russian food but I have not had the chance to try it. Your pictures were amazing and they dishes look delicious. It would be interesting to see compare the US version of Russian food to an authentic dish from Russia.

  17. Sheila Iteghete

    I am not familiar with the specifics of this culture, but I see certain similarities between this and my own culture in terms of the generosity when it comes to feeding people when it comes to an African restaurant or that you are forced to eat as much as you can when it comes to an African home. It amazes people how similar people are in life when we sometimes chose to differentiate ourselves to make one group seem superior than the other. I appreciate you sharing this because I wouldn’t have known about this connection. Also, going back to the dishes, I would say I may be fond of the spicy meat kebabs because I have something like that where I am from and I love spicy food. One last thing if you do not mind, why is there flame in the center of the plate? Like I am thinking to keep the dish warm, but then I am thinking it is for something else.

  18. Andrew Bailey

    Marin, thank you for sharing this story and for providing some photos of the Georgian food you have been able to eat. Your photos remind me that food is not just something we eat for practical reasons (to replenish our energy systems in our body), but food can also be a form of art. The presentation on the plates in your photos truly are artistic, and beautiful. To tell you the truth, I am getting hungry just looking at your photos. We also are able to share a meal with others, and the fact that your waiters/waitresses are so hospitable speaks about the values of the Georgian and Russian peoples.

  19. Francesca Do

    Hello Marin,
    Thank you for sharing your experience with us! The food looks delicious! The visual looks great, though I bet it would look even better in person. I have tried or known about the Georgian food culture before, so this report is completely eye opening to me. This reminds me of my traditional Vietnamese culture, many dishes were served and elders would encourage the family to eat more that one can already obtain. In the future, I hope to travel to Russia to try their yummy Georgian meals.

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