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It is telling that the favorite story the Georgians tell on themselves is how they came to call Georgia home. It seems that when God was passing out the earth to all humankind, the Georgians were busy with a feast Ė enjoying a hearty meal, drinking wine, toasting each otherís health. When God found them after dividing up the earth, the Georgians insisted they were toasting God himself for such a bounty, and invited him to join the meal. God had such a good time he ended up giving this joyous tribe the land he had set aside for himself Ė paradise on earth.

The people of Georgia have reason to believe they live in Godís country. The mountains embrace fertile valleys, separate micro-climates produce a wide variety of terrain to support everything from citrus to grain, hunting to grazing. And the wine Ė archaeologists have found evidence of viticulture almost 7,000 years and older, making it possible that the cultivation of the wine grape itself originated here in the Caucasus. Even the Georgian word for wine, ghvino, is thought to be the aboriginal word for the intoxicating beverage. While the wines of western Europe are more well known and internationally respected, a wide variety of Georgian reds, whites, and blush wines accompany every meal. While at present Georgian wine is all but impossible to find outside of the country itself, spend some time with a virtual Wine List to select your favorite.

As important as wine is, it is but an aspect of the grand ceremony of the shared meal. The "supra", or Georgian table, is the ultimate act of hospitality, the evidence of the Georgian proverb that "an enemy may come as far as the door of your house, but once he enters he is a friend." A toastmaster or tamada is appointed to deliver toast after toast during the lengthy course of the abundant feast Ė to the guests, to the family, to kings and queens of Georgiaís past, to God. With each toast another glass of wine is downed, and another glass poured. The sheer abundance of dishes prepared, served and devoured can be astounding, but itís all in the service of good will, and itís all delicious.

Image of Pomegranates

The cuisine of Georgia varies regionally, with western dishes somewhat spicy, eastern dishes more cool. Local crops also characterize the dishes, as corn grown in the west is more prevalent while wheat is preferred in the east. Pomegranates and their seeds are found in many recipes, tea is sometimes used to flavor meats, and walnuts are a special favorite, being prepared in numerous ways. Though there is no "typical Georgian meal," take a look at a menu of Georgian Cuisine for inspiration.

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