We took a quick trip this weekend to visit Akhaltsikhe, the city in southwestern Georgia (in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region) where we lived for two years. Not quite over our jet lag, we wanted to visit our host family and relax in comfortable surroundings, if only for 48 hours.
We’re still very close with our host family and were flattered to learn that they saved the last few liters of their homemade wine for our visit! Lucky us. Between the four of us (our host siblings weren’t home), we came this close to polishing off all six liters.
My host mom also made us one of my favorite dishes called tutumaji (თუთუმაჯი or, more frequently, matsonis soup). We were once interviewed by Rustavi2, a Georgian TV channel, where I proudly proclaimed my love for this dish. It’s like the Georgian version of chicken noodle soup – the perfect comfort food.
I have yet to see this Javakhetian dish in a restaurant. It’s very simple: homemade yogurt (called matsoni or მაცონი), water, homemade noodles, fried onions and fried balls of dough.
Some foreigners I’ve met take issue with this soup’s tangy taste, and I think it comes down to the particular culture of the yogurt. Each family has their own and some are stronger than others. It’s also a question of taste. Because dairy products purchased directly from the farmer aren’t usually pasteurized or homogenized, they definitely have more flavor than what I am used to finding in America.
We left Akhaltsikhe well-rested and with a bottle of our family’s homemade sour plum sauce. We can’t wait to go back.