The meal in Georgia is more than a re-fuelling. Whenever possible it becomes a full-on cultural event with a formal series of toasts, followed by polyphonic singing and often dancing.
There is a reason for this. The hospitality ritual not only welcomes guests, it also helps control them. There is a Caucasian saying that if someone arrives at your door holding the head of your best friend, you must invite them in as your guest. A wisdom lurks behind such formality. But of course, sadly it is not always heeded.
Tonight it starts again -- first with the shopping. Our translator Soso Adamashvili had known exactly where to find the best local wine. He'd taken us to Tbilisi's Didube market. The sellers stood before tables of huge, glowing jars brimming with gold, yellow, and red liquid, some with cheerful Caucasian scenes painted on the doors of their vans to encourage customers. Soso tasted over a dozen before producing that bold "I think I found it" smile. He had indeed -- and at 50 cents a liter.