Dear Georgia ** sigh **

Post date: 09-Oct-2012 20:46:29

The next supperclub we are cooking is Georgian, as in the ex-Soviet Republic of Georgia. A guest asked me if we would serve the "famous Georgian mineral water". That water is called Borjomi, and it tastes truly terrible to anyone that isn't Georgian. Now, I had forgotten the name so instead of going downstairs to examine the old Borjomi bottle I'm storing oil in, I thought I'd just Google it.

And what a site it was. Here is the first image I was confronted with

I'd really rather not think about the "unnecessaries"

Now, let me tell you a bit about Borjomi. The reason it tastes terrible is it's absolutely choc full of minerals. It's really rather like drinking water from the Dead Sea, if you've any conception of how awful that tastes.

This is pretty much confirmed by the passage from their website:

Borjomi mineral springs were discovered more than thousands years ago. This fact is confirmed by 7 stone bath-tubs found at the beginning of 20th century and dated to beginning of the 1st millennium A.D. Evidently, at those times water was used for bathing and not for drinking.

Those ancients definitely had the right idea. The water is not fit to drink. It almost certainly has a higher sodium content than salt and Georgians imbibe it by the litre. I'm convinced that it's almost single-handedly behind the major health problem Georgia has with hypertension - Georgians are obsessed with their high blood pressure to the point that I knew a lady who had 2 blood pressure monitors - one to check if the other one was working correctly. And if you go to flea markets - well they're absolutely full of 2nd hand blood pressure monitors. I can only presume because the original owners died.

Well, I went on to peruse other sections of their site. It's lovely, if you'll excuse their version of English. Start with the legend of Georgia, which sounds pretty true to form, being late because of a banquet:

According to the folk legend, when God share lands among people, where those were supposed to live, Georgians were late because they had banquet. When they appeared in front of Him they were told that no free lands were left. And Georgians replied that they were late while they were drinking for His health and invited Him to banquet. Got spend a great time and decided to give them land, which left for Himself. Indeed Georgia is a divine country!

They have a full explanation of their history, including that "in the 4th Century AD there appeared Christianity" - indeed, Georgia was the 2nd Christian nation in the world, after Armenia - and that David the Builder expelled the Turks and brought back independency [sic]. He sounds SO much more effective than Bob the Builder.

They go on to highlight the mineral resources – spot the valuable one "oil, coal, bog muck....." and they helpfully talk about their language, writing, music and art.

But the best bit is their analysis of Georgian Cuisine, which is full of hidden gems. Here are some classic excerpts:

Typical table in Georgian starts up with “Borjomi” and finishes with “Suliko” and knocking up between times. [actually I've no idea at all what they mean by that!]

It goes on to describe some of the classic Georgian dishes (some of which we will cook for the upcoming supperclub, although I hope they taste better than this description makes them sound!), and really starts to descend into total unintelligibility. When I read it I can clearly hear the Georgian accent behind it. Although the reference to "phalli" (which should be spelt phkali) and "horny dzhigits" [??] may explain all the "knocking up" that goes on. Enjoy! I worry that our supperclub will be a disappointment after all this...

Local cuisine is real high art. Only Georgian cook knows how many efforts and fantasy should be applied to obtain an effect from usual green. What is fabulous jonjoli means, for example? To the view this is usual twigs and in point of fact this is delicacy which is collected only in single place (Lechkhuma) then marinated and could be kept not longer those two days. And faggot of vegetable herbs such as cilantro, estragon, basil, creeping, onion, and mint on the table seems to be simple ikebana in comparison with phalli (fine-cut mix of fresh and boiled green in nut souse).

Main courses here are nourishing and have wonderful gustatory characteristics. Invited for Georgian tableful first of all will be proposed to taste satsivi (turkey stewed in nut souse) then lobio (kidney beans in tomato souse) with every family cooks in different style as well as beloved by Kahetin people hashlama (boiled meat with dressings).

It is interesting that almost every Georgian region could brag with its cheese sorts. For example in Imeretia cheese is very soft with gadazelili mint, and in Teuleti people prefer guda sheep cheese which is made in homonymous pouches. Cheese is used in Georgian cuisine as a snack (naturally or roasted) and as full ingredient of different courses.

Supra is Georgian tableful and is always accompanied with toasts and dancing. And it is finished with traditional Georgian many-voiced singing when horny dzhigits and beautiful women sing folk songs which sounded from mountains with echo. And at daylight when it seems that everything has been eat, drunk and sung it is time for…more supra “second table”! New white cloth is spread on a table before guests served with tasty smelling snacks and it appears that holiday is not yet started