Georgia, where Europe, the Middle East and Asia meet…
Georgia, the country, why don’t more of us know it?
It hangs in the Southern Caucasus mountains just above North East Turkey and below South West Russia. Handed between the Ottomans and Russians over recent history, it finally gained its current independence in 1991 but not without ongoing troubles with successionist areas and clashes with Russia to the North.
Georgian culture and the country’s ethnic mix reflect its history and the region. Rugby playing, Christian officially (one of the earliest Christian nations) but with a minority Muslim population, it’s part European part Asian and sits on the border of the two continents.
Mentally for me, “Western Europe” and “Eastern Europe” had always spanned from Spain to Poland, loosely divided by the old Cold War boundaries but now I realised there was a lot more “Europe” further East – Ukraine, Western Russia and Georgia among others!
Georgia is a member of the European Council (a human rights organisation) and has expressed in the past an interest in joining the EU. The tug of war between West and East is played here too.
… and create fabulous food…
Influenced over the years by Europe, the Middle East and Western Asia, Georgian food is divine. Think eggplants (aubergine), pomegranate seeds, walnut pastes, deliciously-naughty pastry boats oozing with cheese and egg (Khachapuri), soft juicy wontons that burst with broth as your tongue hunts out the meat or herbs inside (Khinkali) …. Wahoo!
But wait, there’s more! Houses across Georgia don’t have vines growing from their balconies and garden alcoves for nothing. This country has been making wine since as long ago as 6000 BC, making it one of the earliest wine producing areas of the world!
UNESCO has even listed an ancient traditional Georgian wine-making method using Kveri clay jars as an Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Georgian mineral water also tempts with a taste all its own.
We didn’t wait a moment to get stuck in! After a month in Middle-Eastern Turkey, I felt like I had suddenly been teleported to Southern Europe with warm, hearty people, long-missed wines and a deep love of food!
If you haven’t wilted with hunger already, check out this blog of deliciousness and recipes to save the day! – http://georgianrecipes.net/
There’s a few extra pics in the album here too.
What foods or cuisines have taken you by surprise? 🙂