And I mean RIGHT now. Much of the Western world is clearly unfamiliar with Georgian food, because if they knew what they’ve been missing, there would be a restaurant on every block, no question about it. Traditional Georgian cuisine is unique, full of flavor and color, and a genuine fusion of East and West, as Georgia’s key place on the trade routes between Europe and Asia throughout history have brought in spices, herbs and techniques from all over. Do yourself a favor, start saving up for your foodie visit to Republic of Georgia, or at least to the closest city with an authentic Georgian restaurant. When you get there, here’s what you want to order.
1. Nigvziani Badrijani
Go ahead and say that five times fast. Fried eggplants stuffed with a perfectly spiced walnut paste from the Gods. I’m thinking you weren’t aware that a walnut paste from the Gods was a thing, but I assure you it is, look it up. They’re also topped with pomegranate seeds as the final touch. Also try Bazhe if you get a chance, which is a very similar tasting walnut sauce. Georgia will make you super into spreadable walnut products…
2. Acharuli Khachapuri
I will name my first born after this bread boat of wonder and they will have many friends. Khachapuri is a stuffed bread and it can come in other forms including cheeses and beans, both fine and swell, but the Acharuli Khachapuri is a dish like no other. Hot fresh break with a raw egg cracked into the center and a sizable slab of butter to go with it. The egg cooks in the hot bread as you mix it up.
This is as far as I got, I’m honestly proud to say, even though I had some help. Delicious.
Achma will make you reconsider naming Italy the champion of lasagna. Light, soft dough like that used to make dumplings, brimming and bubbling with melty cheesy wonder. I don’t think I need to say more. You are clearly already boarding your plane.
If you could just taste even a tiny piece of churchkhela right now you would fully support me bringing back my own weights worth from my recent trip. The juices of different grape varieties (hence the different colors) are combined with flour to create a thick mixture, then a string of walnuts or hazelnuts is dipped in and coated with the simple sweetness of nature and then laid in the sun to dry. Candy of the vine, ladies and gentlemen, you will regret nothing.
You need to take some time to emotionally prepare yourself for Khinkali, as it will become your sun, the center of your life. Georgian dumplings, influenced by Asian trade and conquering during periods of history, are filled with either cheese, mushrooms, potatoes, or soup and meat. While there is a special place in my heart for all, I would say if you had to try one, soup dumplings forever. For more check out #50ShadesOfDumplings on Instagram and Twitter.
All photos via Sarah Freeman