Everything you need to know to enjoy a traditional Georgian meal
In no other tradition is the spirit and bounty of the country of Georgia so neatly presented as in the Georgian dinner party, called the "supra." Here are some Georgian dishes and rituals that make it so special.
First, two people are assigned specific roles. The first is the merikipe, the person in charge of pouring the wine. The second is the tamada, who is often the host or some other eloquent master of extemporaneous speech appointed by the host.
A good merikipe will read the crowd and know which diners to keep well-lubed while giving others just enough wine – or none at all. The merikipe's job becomes most critical right before toasts, which are controlled by the tamada.
The tamada often makes all of the speeches but he or she can also select someone to go next. When a toast is near, all chatter stops and everyone stands.
The Georgians are bread-making masters. The more popular types of delicious carbs you might find include shotis puri, a canoe-shaped bread.
The other type of bread you'll find everywhere is khachapuri, a rich, cheese-filled, flattened leavened bread. The best versions feature a blend of two local cheeses, sulguni and Imeretian, that yield a gooey, decadent center.
With any Georgian meal, you are bound to get a salad, and it's here that the bazhe sauce shines. Made with walnuts crushed to form a paste, bazhe comes alive with blue fenugreek, coriander and marigold.
It's nearly impossible to not have a meal focused on enormous amounts of savory khinkali. These traditional flour dumplings are cheap and plentiful.
Another integral player is gomi. Made from coarsely ground cornmeal, gomi looks and tastes almost exactly like grits, though the Georgians will enhance it with lots of tangy cheese.
You might also enjoy one big bowl of chakapuli. This soup often comes with lamb but it rises to heavenly status thanks to a spectacular mix of wine, tarragon, spices like coriander, and tangy green plums.