Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Georgian Table

There are two legends that Georgians tell to explain the creation of their country, and fascinatingly, both involve food. In the first, the Georgians claim that when God was distributing land to all the peoples of the Earth, they were too busy feasting and drinking to show up at the appointed time. When they finally arrived, they were dismayed to learn that all the land had already been given away. They explained to God the reason for their delay, and God, obviously recognizing the value of a people who would rather be feasting than fighting over land, took pity on them and gave the Georgians the part of the Earth that he had been reserving for himself - naturally, the most beautiful part. In the second legend, God took a supper break while creating the world, and became so involved with his meal that he inadvertently tripped over the high peaks of the Caucasus, spilling his food onto the land below. This land blessed by heaven's table scraps was Georgia.

The Traveler's Lunchbox - A Georgian Feast

With this kind of folklore behind the country, I was only too happy to accept an invitation to a Georgian Table. The term "Georgian Table" can be roughly translated as an obnoxiously large feast featuring Georgian food. Our guide and host for our adventure into Georgian cuisine was Sara, who, along with her brother Geoff, had spent several years in Georgia. She can be seen in the picture below organizing the unsuspecting workforce some guests in preparing the dishes.

Sara giving instructions

To illustrate the point about utilizing her guests, Geoff and I never even made it through the door of the house before being assigned our duties. We were to barbeque the meat (it had a Georgian name, which I will choose not to misspell for you). Apparently this was very Georgian, as the meat was only supposed to be cooked by the men and over an open fire. While we didn't use an actual open fire, I can't help but feel that the barbeque's uncontrolled flames added a measure of authenticity to the whole endeavor.

Hard at work

I'm not sure how authentic the rest of the preparation technique was (as evidenced by the picture below).

A little too happy

The meal was absolutely amazing and unending, this is apparently authentically Georgian as well. When dish after amazing dish kept appearing from the kitchen, it soon became apparent why the "volunteer" recruitment had been needed.

The Georgian Table

And as a sign of a truly good party, the fun didn't stop until we had received a warning from the landlord. The offense? Ballroom and Latin dancing in the common square between the townhouses. Although, I think she was just bitter Geoff and I hadn't asked her to go dancing by moonlight.

All in all it was an excellent night. A big thanks to Sara and everyone who helped out.


Sara said...

I object to your characterization of me! You and Geoff both made it inside before I assigned you a task. In fact, you had at least 30 seconds (and quite possibly a whole minute) before you had to go back outside. See? Complete misrepresentation.

Jonathan said...

Not to split hairs, but when we were greeted through the screen window (while still outside) with a comment along the lines of, "Oh good you're here, now you can start BBQing", I can't help but feel that in that moment our fate was already sealed. I will admit that we did manage to enter the house for about 30 seconds (a whole minute would be doubtful), however that was the turn around time for you to give us a tray of meat to BBQ and send us out the door. Just to be clear.

Dave said...

Just to be clear, if I got served a banquet like that, I would not be so petty and small of character to complain! Oh, and Sara, I think I've met you once, but if you can put on a spread like that with such unwilling and shoddy workers (who should be ashamed of themselves I might add), I'd be more than willing to help out next time! I am eagerly waiting with baited breath for my invitation...

Second, your story of Georgia and the myths about its creation are awesome- it kind of reminds me of the story about Rwanda. About one of the only happy things that I discovered when reading Romeo Dallaire's book "Shake Hands with the Devil" was that Rwandans generally believed that though God may traverse the whole world during the day, Rwanda was the place where he slept and took his rest.