Cuttino's Georgian Life

A journal of my Peace Corps service in the Republic of Georgia, 2006-2008.

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner of Championebi

Now that I am free cook for myself, I've found out what a pain it is to have to actually do it. In America, if I didn't have the energy to make a meal, I could just go down to Wendy's a get a sandwich. Unfortunately, thats not really an option here. You cook or you go hungry. So, Science be praised for pelmeni! These little dumplings are stuffed with meat and come frozen in every store in town. Boil the water, drop in the pelmini, and in five minutes you have a meal. Pelmeni is best served with a spoonful of sour cream and pepper.

Of course, pelmeni is a Russian dish. For those interested in a more authentic Georgian taste, there is khinkali. This dumpling is about the size of your fist and packed with meat, potatoes, or mushrooms. These are boiled and served with pepper. The meat filling is juicy, so the trick is to eat the khinkali without getting juice on your hands. It's much harder than it sounds. It's the ultimate drinking food here in Georgia; when the weather is warm, you'll find us out on the patio of the local restaurant having beers and a big plate of khinkali.

Khinkali and beer--it doesn't get any more Georgian.

When I first arrived in Georgia, I realized that khinkali bore a striking resemblance to buuz, a dumpling that I ate in Mongolia and Siberia. My theory is that when the Mongols invaded back in the 1200s, they brought buuz with them, and eventually buuz became khinkali. When I shared this with my language instructor, she quickly corrected me. It is the other way, around according to her; the Mongols came, brought Georgian women back with them, and the kidnapped brides introduced the food in East Asia. It seems that Georgian nationalism extends even into the kitchen. Mongols or Georgians--whoever invented it did a very tasty thing for the rest of us.


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