Sunday, November 05, 2006

Georgian Food, Georgian Wine, Georgian Bellyache

We have amazing friends here in Georgia. They came to Minnesota two years ago to learn about our laws and systems on domestic violence and everytime we are here we get together for these wonderful dinners, actually dinner is not an adequate word, feasts. After our amazing court hearing experience we met our friends, ok first we did a little shopping, but then we met our friends and drove out to the old capital which is about twenty miles out of Tbilisi.

This is a beautiful place with a 5th century church on the top of a big hill overlooking the river valley. Last time I was here we went up there and in the church there was a group of men singing in the haunting beautiful melodic way that will stay with me forever. There is also a 10th or 11th century church which is said to hold the robes Jesus was buried in and people come to this church to be healed by the power of this cloth.

This time, coming in the evening, we saw both churches all lit up casting beautiful reflections onto the river. We didn't have time to go exploring however and went straight to the restaurant. We ate at a restaurant along the river that has separate rooms for each table so it is like a private party. there is a buzzer/light switch by the door to summon the wait staff. We were greeted by all the traditional georgian dishes. Georgian food is like a mixture between Greek, russian and indian (hard to really picture that, I know) The do a lot with walnuts and pommagranites and these amazing salty cheeses. Everything is really rich and delicious and plentiful - beyond plentiful!!! There were about 20, ok well 6, courses and by the time the fruit comes signaling the end of the meal you breathe a small sigh of relief (small because you are too full to sigh deeply). With the food there is amazing wine, Georgia is well known for its wine, a reputation that is well deserved. It is traditional for there to be lots of toasts, a man typically takes on the role as the toast master and as we were a group of 10 with only one man, Koba stepped up admirably. At one point a wooden bowl of wine is passed around and the toast is to the friendship of all at the table and everyone drinks and the last person is expected to finish the wine. Are you getting the picture of a lot of wine, it was a lot of wine!!

Toward the end of the meal a singer/organ grinder came into the room and played and sang for us. He then had Boss play the grinder while he sang. Then I took a turn, he put his cap on my head and one of my travel mates got up to dance. It was a beautiful night and we really should have walked home to work off some of that dinner - our poor stomaches, I am not sure if they have forgiven us yet;)

-A. Monkey