Stumartmokvareoba

We’re celebrating an anniversary this month: it was six years ago that we first came to Georgia! While the memories of our first days and weeks in country are a bit blurry (jet lag + culture shock), I do remember being amazed by how incredibly nice everyone was to us.

We lived in a small village outside Borjomi and so many families enthusiastically invited us in to their homes, fed us ridiculous amounts of food and smiled patiently at our attempts to say simple things in Georgian.  Some even offered me slippers so my feet wouldn’t get cold.

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Sean and McKinze in 2010, shortly after arriving in Georgia

Little did we know then that we were being treated to Georgia’s famous hospitality (stumartmokvareoba – სტუმართმოყვარეობა).   We’ve experienced so much generosity and kindness over the past six years and can attest that the culture of hospitality in this country deserves to be famous.

Case in point: when we traveled to Guria, we didn’t know anyone there – only loose introductions from friends. But the incredibly gracious hosts we met spent entire days with us, taking us on all sorts of adventures. And, as is customary, they fed us – plenty.

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Our host treated to this dry aged and slow smoked pork (lori – ლორი), raised on the family farm.  Wow. 
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Our host’s take on gupta (გუფთა), with meat balls, fried onions, tomato paste, a little rice and seasoned with blue fenugreek (utskho suneli),  ground coriander (kindzi) and fresh herbs.
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A type of khachapuri cheese bread that we hadn’t tried; the dough was more like a pancake batter, made of yogurt, eggs, flour and baking soda.  The cheese was mixed with the batter before being cooked in a pan. 
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This roasted chicken was seasoned with hot red peppers, oil and salt.  Crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, it was exactly how I like my chicken.  
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Sean giving a rousing final toast in Georgian at the end of a supra.

In situations like these, it’s impossible to repay the kindness we’ve received.  So we offer our most sincere thanks, multiple times, and promise to show a bit of Georgian hospitality to our guests in the future.

Muraba

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This isn’t a fruit jam. It isn’t some exotic fruit found at a Tbilisi bazaar. Nor is it some sweet candy.

Or maybe it is. Kind of. All of those things.

It’s a watermelon rind. You know, the white part of the melon between the skin and the juicy pink part you eat. The part that usually, if you’re like most people I know, you throw away.

But why waste it? Instead, boil it with a whole lot of sugar and can it. Many Georgians do this, and it’s called muraba (მურაბა). Or more precisely, sazamtros muraba (საზამთროს მურაბა).

I’m told it takes a few days to make properly, but the result is delicious! They also make a variety of more traditional jams (pear, peach, cherry) and even one with unripe walnuts, as in this recipe from georgianrecipes.net.

Just another example of what I notice a lot over here: using every part of the food product, with as little waste as possible.