Nestled between two continents and once part of the great Silk Road, Georgia cherry-picked culinary techniques and seasonings from Mongols, Greeks, Arabs, Turks and other traders passing through. While many meals can be heavy on red meat, dairy, dough and walnuts, the Georgian’s balance of spices and fresh herbs help create flavourful, unique meals. Dumplings are boiled instead of steamed, a simple tomato and cucumber salad is seasoned with walnuts or unrefined sunflower oil, while meat stews have sour plums instead of apricots or prunes used in further east.
However, the country’s Mediterranean-like climate, mixed terrain and regional and ethnic diversities result in every corner having its own specialities. While visitors meandering through capital Tbilisi’s many restaurants and cafes can easily try many of Georgia’s regional staples – as well as contemporary eateries – its worth travelling to experience these dishes in their traditional environment. Heading out to the Black Sea, travellers will find the country’s western provinces offer spicy, tasty comfort food, while the dishes towards the eastern Caspian Sea side tend to be simple and minimalistic.
But wherever your Georgian journey takes you, there are a number of meals you just shouldn’t leave the country without trying – and the hospitable locals will certainly ensure that you don’t. The memorable bites on the next page will keep Georgia on your mind, stomach and maybe even in your kitchen too.