გამარჯობა! Gamarjoba! Greetings from the country of Georgia. Nestled in the Caucasus Mountains in the traditional border zone between Europe and Asia, this small republic sits at a crossroads between some of the world’s oldest civilizations. With that in mind, we knew that this weekend was going to be a real treat!
After walking to the co-op to do some last minute grocery shopping on Saturday morning, we were greeted by Gladys Knight’s 1973 classic, Midnight Train to Georgia, playing throughout the store. She was singing about a different Georgia, of course, but I took it as an auspicious sign nonetheless.
For breakfast, Jess spent several hours preparing some homemade ajaran khachapuri, or hot breadbowls filled with cheese and egg. According to the recipe, in Georgia this dish is a national specialty.
Later that morning, we got ourselves better acquainted with the country’s history, culture, and, uh, geography through the Georgian episode of Geography Now:
That afternoon, we learned more about Georgian cuisine with this funny documentary:
I whipped up a traditional potato salad, or kartopilis salati, for dinner, as well as a cold bean salad made with Georgia’s famous cilantro sauce. Both contained quite a bit of fresh herbs. Here they are together:
After dinner, we watched a classic Georgian film called The Wishing Tree (1977) from director Tengiz Abuladze. This period film was set in the Georgian countryside in the years before the Russian revolution. Here’s a trailer:
The film gave us a dramatized look at the miserable lives of an assortment of stereotypical Georgian villagers, and while it didn’t exactly have a happy ending, we got a sense of the country’s abundant natural beauty.
After a good night’s sleep, we enjoyed some more of Jess’s ajaran khachapuri on Sunday morning, this time seasoned with dill. Later that morning, after we had cooked our lunches for the work week, we took in this longer documentary called Georgia & The Great Caucasus from Planet Doc:
This documentary showed us more about Georgia’s long history as well as its rich, multiethnic culture. The country also boasts one of the oldest wine-making traditions in the world (some say that the word wine itself actually comes from the Georgian language) and we learned about that as well. You can see some of the local (non-Georgian) grapes that Jess bought at the co-op in the photo at the top of this post.
We enjoyed another lunch of lobio and mchadi, followed by a documentary about the ancient Georgian kingdom of Colchis. So much history!
Dinnertime brought more helpings of my bean and potato salads. To conclude our Georgian weekend, we paused to contemplate One Day in the Life of a Men’s Monastery, a 26-minute documentary uploaded six years ago to the day on September 10, 2011. It captures a quiet yet productive day at a monastery in Georgia’s autonomous breakaway region of Abkhazia. The film is hosted here on Vimeo.
Although we didn’t manage to locate any Georgian cultural hotspots here in Buffalo, Jess and I had a grand time exploring this nation of grape growers, folk dancers, and monks on the Black Sea.