Very young entrepreneurs denied the opportunity to cook and sell fried chicken

On my walk through the neighborhood this morning I saw this in a shop window.


I pointed it out to the tall person and asked if he thought that we will soon be seeing very young entrepreneurs (from the age of 3) preparing and selling fast food on the streets of our neighborhood. He smiled and told me that despite its realistic appearance it was just a toy.

Hmm. That is disappointing. I sometimes feel hungry during our walks through the neighborhood and would have enjoyed some chicken pieces seasoned with Sanders’ recipe of 11 herbs and spices.

New blog about Georgia

I have some exciting news! Tall person has launched a new blog to share his experiences about life in the Republic of Georgia. Having lived here for several years he wants to show the best of the best of this wonderful country and with the help of De and Mari his new blog will take you on a guided tour of its unique culture, rich history, amazing food and wines, colorful markets and natural wonders.

Walk with him in the snow covered Caucasus mountains and lush forests. Tour the towns and cities and countryside and meet the Georgian people, renowned for their hospitality and love of life. Learn how to cook Georgian food. Visit centuries old churches filled with exquisite icons and murals. Learn about traditional crafts and customs. See the best of the best of Georgia.

Called Georgia About, the new blog will bring beautiful Georgia to you!

Visit Georgia About and see the best of the best of Georgia:

Good luck with your new blog tall person. I see you have found something thinner than you!

Discover the secret of tall person’s slim physique!

The tall person is very slim. This is partly due to exercise – I take him for long walks around the neighborhood – and partly due to the small portions of food he consumes. However, they do not start off small.

In this post you can discover the secret of tall person’s slim physique:

Meet my baker

There is a lot of news about bad bankers on television at the moment and how they have lost a lot of ‘dough’ so I thought it would be nice to talk about good bakers who make very good use of dough.

This is my baker. He makes delicious bread for me and the tall person and De and the little person and other families in my neighborhood.

He looks as if he is dressed to go to the beach but that is because the circular clay oven, called a tone (pronounced “ton-AY”), is very hot. In summer, the heat inside the bakery is almost unbearable.

The tall person likes to watch the baker make the traditional long pointed bread called shotis puri. The dough is stretched on to a long handled shovel and placed on the inside walls of the oven. When it is ready the baker uses long sticks to take the loaves out and puts them on slatted wooden shelves to cool. It smells fantastic!

The bread is very hot when it is freshly baked and when you buy it the baker will usually wrap it in a sheet of paper, otherwise it would be too hot to carry.

Ice cream etiquette

Yesterday, the tall person shared his ice cream with Barnaby and me. It was the first time that Barnaby had eaten ice cream.

I explained to him that we have rules concerning ice cream.

Rule 1: Wait patiently and do not panic. The tall person always shares but if you pester him there is always the possibility that he won’t.

Rule 2: Try not to watch the tall person eating his ice cream. It is best to look away or you will start drooling.

Here I am demonstrating the correct observance of Rules 1 and 2. Note that Barnaby is flouting Rule 2.

Rule 3: When the tall person indicates that it is time to share approach the ice cream carefully. Ice cream is notoriously slippery and can easily fall on the ground. A gritty ice cream is not much fun.

Rule 4: Do not rush. Savour the cool, creamy texture.

Rule 5: Try to avoid an ice-cream headache, also known as brain freeze, cold-stimulus headache, or its given scientific name sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia (meaning “nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion”). This is a form of brief cranial pain or headache commonly associated with consumption (particularly quick consumption) of cold beverages or foods such as ice cream.

Unfortunately, as you can see from this picture I ignored my own advice and suffered sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. Ouch!

Rule 6: Ice cream can be very messy to eat. Always maintain your dignity and avoid looking silly.

Oops! Have I got ice cream on my nose?

From the look on his face I think Barnaby enjoyed his first ice cream.

Follow these simple rules and you too will maximise your ice cream eating experience.

I love khinkali!

De’s sister Mari came to see us yesterday and we had a Khinkali party. Khinkali is a popular Georgian dish made of twisted knobs of dough, stuffed with meat and spices.

De and Mari made our Khinkali.

In this photo you can see the Khinkali in different stages of preparation.

The idea is to make as many pleats as possible as you bunch the dough around the filling.

The dumplings are cooked in salted, boiling water for 12 to 15 minutes.

The Khinkali are served hot with no garnish other than black pepper.

There is an art to eating Khinkali. The doughy top, where the pleats all meet, is never eaten, but used as a handle for holding the hot dumplings. Here is a picture of the tall person demonstrating the technique and making sure none of the delicious meat juices escape!

Barnaby and me also had our share of the delicious Khinkali. Here we are demonstrating our technique!

I love Khinkali!

Bassa’s guide to Georgian cuisine (part 1 – Georgian ‘Snickers’)

At this time of year we all eat more than we usually do – I know I do!

Fortunately, I live in a country that has wonderful food.

In ‘Bassa’s Guide to Georgian Cuisine’ I will show you how to make some of the most popular and delicious Georgian dishes.

De will do the cooking. Tall person will take the photographs and the little person and me will do the eating!

Our first dish is called Churchkhela and combines two of Georgia’s favorite foods – grapes and nuts.

Churchkhela is a long string of nuts that has been dipped repeatedly in a concentrated fresh grape juice. It is delicious and nutritious and often called the Georgian ‘Snickers’!

You can see churchkhelas hanging in long strands in this picture taken in the market.

This is how to make it:

Ingredients for 2 churchkhelas: 1 1/2 quarts of white grape juice, 3/4 cup of sugar, 1 cup of flour, 40 walnut halves.

  • Thread a needle with a 30-inch length of heavy-duty thread. With the flat side of the nuts facing up, thread 20 walnut halves onto the thread, then thread the remaining walnut halves flat side down.
  • Cut the thread from the needle and knot the ends. Then push half of the walnuts to one end of the thread, leaving about 6 inches of thread in between the 2 portions of nuts. You will have 2 separate strands of walnut halves hanging flat side up. The walnut strands should be dried in the sun before the next stage of the process to prevent the growth of mould.
  • In a pot, reduce the grape juice over low heat for about 3 hours, progressively stirring in the sugar.
  • Whisk in the flour [to avoid lumps, place the flour in a large bowl and progressively pour in the liquid while mixing] and return to a boil. The resulting mixture is called tatara.
  • Find a board about 4 inches wide and suspend it between two chairs. Place newspaper on the floor underneath (to catch the drips).
  • Pick up the walnuts by the middle of the thread and slowly dip them into the tatara, using a spoon to coat the topsides, if necessary. Slowly pull them up from the juice and carefully drape the thread over the prepared board so that the walnut strands hang down over the newspaper.
  • Allow the nuts to dry for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the coating is slightly tacky. Then return the nuts to the juice, which has been kept warm, and repeat the dipping process. Allow to dry again for 20 minutes or so. The drier the coating, the better the next layer will adhere.
  • Repeat the dipping process, 8 to 10 times, or until the nuts are completely coated. Leave to dry for 3 to 4 days, until the strands are no longer sticky to the touch.
  • Wrap in towels and allow to mature for 2 to 3 months. The churchkhelas will develop a thin layer of powdery sugar.

It sounds like a lot of effort and a long wait but they are worth it!

I must confess, we can’t wait that long so we buy them from the market!

Remember to pull out the string before you eat your churchkhela.


Eat, drink and be merry!

It is New Year’s Eve and the busiest time of year for shops and markets and bakers. Everyone is preparing for the New Year feasts, which will begin after midnight tonight and continue well into the next day.

It is one of the most important celebrations of the year.

Tables will be groaning beneath the weight of barbecued pork, roasted turkey, satsivi (chicken boiled in nut sauce), suckling pig, boiled and fried fish, fruit, nuts, salads, lobiani (bean bread), khachapuri (cheese bread), churchkhela (long strings of nuts dipped in grape juice), suluguni cheese, mchadi (corn bread) and cakes.

This will be accompanied by Georgian wine, traditionally drunk from ram or goat horns called kantsi.

Some of the horns can take 2-3 litres of wine and it is traditional to drink the horn dry in one go!

Bread is an important part of the feasting and bakers have been working all night. People have been queuing outside our local baker since 5.00 a.m. this morning, each waiting to collect their 40 or 50 breads!

We were lucky. Our taxi driver (the one with the beautiful white Volga) collected our breads when he picked up his. He had been queuing for 6 hours!

We will be thinking of family and friends at midnight. There is a tradition here called Mekvle (somebody who visits you first in the New Year). The appearance of a Mekvle, who wishes happiness, success and prosperity to everyone in the coming year, is a long standing tradition and is often performed by a family member who is let out for a few seconds to let him/her enter first and bring joy.

Georgian hospitality, generosity and love of life is famous. In fact, it goes back to the beginning!

According to Georgian legend:

“When God was distributing portions of the world to all the people of the Earth, the Georgians were having a party and doing some serious drinking. As a result, they arrived late and were told by God that all the land had been distributed. When they replied that they were late only because they had been lifting their glasses in praise of Him, God was pleased, and gave the Georgians that part of Earth He had been reserving for Himself.”

I wish all my friends a very happy and prosperous New Year. I wish I could be your Mekvle and be the first to greet the New Year with you.

Anyone for cake?

You may know that I like cake. In fact I love cake. So do many Georgians. There is a street near me that I call Cake Street because that is where the cake shops are. I love going there and sitting in front of the shop windows, drooling. I think I provide valuable free advertising but I’m not sure the shop staff agree – the sidewalk does get a little slippery!

Shops selling similar things can often be found grouped together in the same street. There is a mobile phone street where every other shop sells mobile phones. There is sports wear street opposite the National Stadium and there is also a furniture street and a bathroom street (not literally a bathroom). The tall person says that it is a good idea for shops to be grouped together like this because it saves time.

Anyway, back to cakes. Georgian cakes are very decorative and colourful. De used to make multi-tier, highly decorated cakes but would not let anyone eat them! She said that they were too pretty to eat – hmm, no cake is too pretty to eat De!

Some of the cakes displayed in the shops in Cake Street are very large and in the shape of bears and rabbits and other animals. The bear cake in the picture has been in the shop window for a long time and I think he looks sad because no one has bought him.