By Mr. Augie
Mr. Augie and Mrs. Annie hosted a family picnic in Alliance, Ohio on Saturday, Independence weekend. Much to our surprise, a special meal was prepared and served–before our American barbequed 5.5 pound pastured chicken, potato salad and baked beans.
There is spiritual meaning to natural food and drink, a communion among family and friends. Having several authentically traditional Republic of Georgia cuisine specially prepared for you table-side surrounded by nature is one thing, but having it prepared by newlyweds Shota Gagaidze and Laife Janovyak recent arrivals from the Republic makes it a most memorable feast for the family. Georgia was once part of the USSR but now have their independence.
Chatting in Shota’s native tongue, the two unpacked a couple bags of fresh grocs (that’s an English truncation for groceries) from Cleveland’s famed, open air West Side Market, the oldest in the U.S. The prep began by lighting the coals. In Georgia fresh meat (slaughtered that day!) is grilled over wood often with grape vines added for aroma.
The meat course was mtsvadi, simply fresh butchered pork cubes, marinated in red wine and onions, heavily seasoned with ground pepper and sea salt, grilled close over hot coals on spits, turning frequently until crisp and somewhat charred. Shota was on the grill of course. They had taken a jar of marinade to the market for the butcher to fill, typically this should marinate several hours or overnight.
Sides were vegetable stew called apopsadali, a room temperature potato-based dish, badrijan migvzit, exquisite fried eggplant pieces with a heavy topping of roasted garlic paste and pomegranate; also a blended beet dish called carkhala salad or ჭარხლის სალათა (there’s a word I know!); prasa salad, a leek salad; and some home-made bread called khatchpori, a very flat pita-type bread baked with a center of salty cheese. Drink was a sweetened cream cold coffee, and red wine. Georgians usually drink a very strong, sweet Turkish coffee. (Regular Folger’s was served with raw milk).
By the way, Georgia is the oldest wine producing region of the world. The fertile valleys of the South Caucasus, which Georgia straddles, are believed by many archaeologists to be the source of the world’s first cultivated grapevines and neolithic wine production, over 8,000 years ago–see Wikipedia. Also, the beloved kefir grains are believed to originate in the Caucasus mountains. A very rich heritage indeed!
Laife told the story of a three-day travel delay causing her to miss her wedding twice before arriving in Tbilisi from California. It was many months before Shota’s paperwork allowed him to come to the States last fall. They met while Laife was a Peace Corps volunteer which ended in her escape from Georgia during the Russian bombing a couple years ago.
Wish Laife and Shota a life of joyous marriage by commenting; perhaps leaving a traditional, nutrient-dense recipe of your ethnic heritage using farm/garden fresh ingredients.
I still cannot pronounce their last name—but salad was the one word I could understand. Besides that, I did learn the letter T, it sounds like taw—I think.
Deuteronomy 8:19– When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which He hath given thee.
(Good eating, as in Bon Apetit)
- Eat Away Your Acid Reflux. Over 60 million Americans suffer acid-reflux disorder, now epidemic. Recover from GERD with this eBook! Read all about it and watch the short video.– Mr. Augie