Even though it is located in the Caucasus region of the former Soviet Union, Georgia has a style of cookery that has a closer kinship to that of the Middle East than to that of Russia.
Festive dinners start with a large variety of zakuski (hors d'oeuvres). Often set outdoors on a single table, hosts are valued by the length of the zakuski table they set. Cheeses, vegetables, pickled garlic cloves, and sprigs of coriander and tarragon sit alongside platters of smoked sturgeon, caviar, sliced hard sausages, pickled mushrooms and plums. And, because Georgians take enormous pride in the wines they produce at home, as many as twelve different kinds of wine may adorn the table. Vodka, drunk neat, ice cold and in a single gulp from tiny glasses is always available and wealthier families serve the local version of champagne.
One of the things that gives Georgian cookery its unique flavor is the liberal use of fruits and nuts together with meat and poultry - walnut and plum sauces being favorites. The region also boasts an enormous variety of heavy but delicious breads that vary in taste and texture from village to village.
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Red Beans with Plum Sauce | Turkey with Apricot Stuffing
Sources: Embassy of Israel; Israeli Foreign Ministry; Ruth's Kitchen; Manischewitz; Rogov's Ramblings- Reprinted with permission.
Daniel Rogov is the restaurant and wine critic for the daily newspaper Ha'aretz. He is also the senior writer for Wine and Gourmet Magazine and contributes culinary and wine articles to newspapers in Europe and the United States.