Saturday, November 6, 2010

Good Eats - Mtsvadi

Nino informed me that the most Georgian food, after khinkali, is mtsvadi (მცვათი). Therefore my description of Georgian foods should have this dish in a high place of honor.

Like khinkali, mtsvadi is a dish for special occasions. I've only had it about three times myself so far. In essence it is barbecued pork minus the sauces. The pork is rubbed down with some salt, pepper and a few other spices and skewered with onions then placed over hot coals to roast for about 15 minutes. Then the meat slid off the skewer and onto a waiting plate before being brought to the table, hot and delicious. Seriously, you would not believe how quickly this gets gobbled up.

The last time I had mtsvadi it was at a supra (სუფრა), a celebratory traditional Georgian feast, for Eka's cousin's son and his new wife. Like my experience with khinkali we had eaten, what I erroneously assumed, to be the entire meal. I thought the fire in the fireplace was there to warm up the exceptionally cold room. While not entirely wrong, my assumption was not entirely right either. The fire's purpose was twofold; one, heat up the particularly thin skinned guests and two, make a nice bed of coals for the next round of food. Beka and Giorgi (the previously aforementioned son) were in charge of tending to the meat as it cooked, making sure that it was properly turned and of course performing the all important taste test. Then it was just a matter of bringing it from the fireplace to the table, thankfully just a few short feet. The overall combination of salt, pepper, onions and the smoke from the hot coals makes for a great flavor and some really good eats!

In other news today...a key strategy in fighting my otherwise losing caloric battle with Georgian food was discovered. The answer...Georgian dancing. A few of the teachers at school have been tossing around the idea in the break room for a few weeks and yesterday it came up again. I said that I would be really interested. Number one, I'd love a hobby outside of school; two, I'm always up for meeting new people; three, I sort of miss my English country dancing and four, see above. :)

For my first day I was both terrible and not so bad. Three years of dancing at Colonial Williamsburg definitely equipped me with the basics of foot positions and stepping patterns. I was actually amazed (and frankly delighted) that so many of the steps seemed to be variations on the setting and slipping steps I already know. Unfortunately for me Georgian dancing is equal parts feet and hand movements and needless to say it's sort of like patting your head and rubbing your belly. There were several times when the teacher just grabbed my arms and moved them for me. But for my first day I thought I wasn't a total trainwreck and I sure had a blast. It was a frantic race to keep up but I do think that I should get some sort of A for effort for being the only non-Georgian there. Coincidentally, I will know my numbers 1-8 really well when this is said and done. I'm looking forward to going back tomorrow (with my new dance shoes in tow)!

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