Eating khinkali like a local
Eating khinkali is not like what you're used to doing with dumplings. First of all, you use only your hands. There's a real reason for this, because cutting the large dumpling would spill the juice and ruin the taste. Locals will begin by seasoning the dumplings with pepper. Then grab the dumpling however you like, from the top "handle" if it pleases you, and take a small bite out of the side to slurp up the juice. Don't let any juice fall on your plate, or the Georgians watching you will start chuckling, and you'll get your chin messy. Then, still holding the khinkali, eat around the top, finishing the dumpling and then placing the twisted top on your plateâit's considered an extreme mark of poverty in finances and taste to eat the doughy top. It's also nice to look with pride upon all your tops once, with practice, you get into the double digits with these dumplings. Wash them down with a Kazbegi beer, or a "limonati" of whichever flavor you prefer most common flavors are lemon, pear, and estragon / tarragon--which is quite refreshing.
The cuisine of Georgia is justly famous throughout the region visitors to Moscow will have noticed the amount of Georgian restaurants. Popular "national" dishes include "khachapuri" A cheese filled bread, it more resembles cheese pie and khinkali minced, spiced meat in a dumpling, served in enormous quantities. While the khachapuri comes with every meal and it's very possible to get tired of this, khinkali is usually reserved for its own separate meal, where Georgian men will down 15 huge dumplings like it's no big deal.
Mtsvadi, a tasty grilled chunks of marinaded pork or veal on stick with onions, is another staple. But this is by no means the end of the list of wonderful dishes, usually flavored with garlic, coriander, walnuts, and dill. A traditional Georgian feast supra is truly a sight to behold, with a spread that no group could finish, accompanied by at least 20 toasts set to wine or brandy.
For a quick snack you can try all variety of "ghvezeli" pastry stuffed with meat, potatoes, cheese, or other ingredients, usually sold in markets and on the side of the street. Be aware of western-style dishes pizzas, hamburgers etc though, which are usually a pale copy of their true selves. It is much better to try local food.
The fruit and vegetables here will spoil your taste buds foreverâyou may no longer be able to stomach the produce you get at home. Whatever it is hereâthe lack of any processed foods, a special quality to the soil, the fabled tale of God tripping on the Greater Caucasus mountains and dropping his lunch hereâthe produce is bursting at the seams with flavor. And it's very cheap. Even if you only speak English and stand out as a foreigner like a slug in a spotlight, you can get fruit and vegetables in the market for a mere fraction of what you would pay in, say, Western Europe. Grabbing a quick meal of tomatoes, fresh cheese, puri bread, and fruit is perhaps the most rewarding meal to be had in the countryâand that's saying a lot.
If you can, try and get yourself invited to dinner at someone's home this is not too difficult in Georgia, owing to their hospitality and general desire to stuff foreign visitors full of all the food they can afford. The food in restaurants is an odd set piece of the same dishes over and over. But Georgian cuisine is far richer, and has an untold number of dishes to try, prepared from scratch with fresh, locally grown products although supermarkets are now spreading throughout Georgia. Try and get your hands on ajabsandali, a sort of vegetable ratatouille, made differently according to each family's recipe, and which is wonderful. Another streak of dishes made out of lamb chanakhi, chakapuli is simply delicious. Finally, there a lot of vegetarian dishes mostly in western parts of Georgia which are surprisingly tasty and accompany most of local parties with heavy wine drinking.