Georgian cuisine, much like everything else about Georgia, was a very pleasant surprise. I don’t want to give you the impression that we travel to foreign countries without doing research, but the majority of our efforts focused on putting together a doable route. Lots of emails/Skypes/WhatsApps/texts about the route. So many. SO MANY. Just look at the pictures we’ve been posting—this route is rad. Basically we did a bikepacking calendar shoot. Which, if you’re interested in a Boys & Girls of Bikepacking Calendar let us know (really, the only issue is figuring out which month(s) will feature Benedict).
“But aside from the route we hadn’t done a huge amount of cultural investigation. Some might call this willful neglect, I’d like to think of it as having a propensity for surprise. Why take all the wonder out of the world?”
We knew that Georgia was part of the Soviet Union, that it borders Russia, that we’d be in the mountains. And we assumed that since Georgia had been a part of the Soviet Union and neighbors Russia, the Georgian Cultural experience would conform to our expectations of the Russian Cultural Experience. Not that any of us had actually been to Russia; we based our expectations on hearsay and 20 years of Cold War and post-Cold War action movies. Basic cultural blindness. However we were excited and open to the experience: LET THERE BE LIGHT! We wanted to see, we wanted to dismantle our expectations, we were in Georgia to learn.
There is so much to tell you about Georgia. And for our purposes now, I think you should know that Georgia is not Russia, and that Georgian culture is distinct and captivating. We learned that there has been developed culture in the Georgian region since the 13th century BCE, and given its geographical location Georgia has been a crossroads throughout antiquity, at one time or another in the domain of history’s greatest empires.
So what about the food? Based on our Russian expectations—again, these not even indicative of any actual Russian cuisine—we were prepared to eat foot with a solid beet and radish base, kinda blah, healthy but blah. We expected porridge and vodka, we expected potatoes potatoes potatoes.11As I write this I find myself thinking, ‘Hmm potatoes potatoes potatoes wouldn’t be that bad.’ Yes, there were potatoes in Georgia, but they hardly registered in the hierarchy of Georgian food. Proud of his homeland’s cuisine, Tazer made sure that we surveyed the popular Georgian dishes during our trip.