[特约 Contributor Jason Lim 英译 Translator 刘大人 摄影 Photographer Jason Lim]
An unforgettable trip to a faraway land
From its sweeping green valleys spread with vineyards to its ancient churches and watchtowers perched in fantastic Caucasus mountain scenery, Georgia is one of the most beautiful places on earth and one of the countries of the Silk Road at this age-old Eurasian crossroads.
When God created the world, he asked all the peoples of the earth where they wanted to live and distributed their homelands accordingly, except for the Georgians who were too busy feasting. However, the Georgians invited God to join the party and spent the whole time praising his handiwork, much to his pleasure that he gave the Georgians the little plot of land he had been saving for himself.
Thank god, we now have the Eden of the Caucasus.
Georgia may be a small nation, but its greatness lies in history, culture and nature. For many centuries, the territory has experienced continuous wars and revolutions by civilisations of foreign lands from other parts of the world. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Georgia declared its independence in 1991, and this profoundly complicated history has given the country a great heritage of architecture and arts, with a real variety of beautiful sights and sounds to suit any explorer like us.
Still haunted by the 2008 invasion when the Russian military intervened in a long-standing territorial crisis in the breakaway region of South Ossetia, the world was distracted from the Beijing Olympics for five spectacularly confusing days. Over a decade on, Georgia is now moving forward in the 21st century, from Tbilisi to Mtskheta, with contemporary buildings and ever-improving facilities for us visitors who are a growing part of its future.
When it comes to wine, the French may claim to have the final word, but the Georgians surely have the first, as it’s proud, high-spirited and cultured people have been making (and drinking) wine for 8,000 years. Recognised by UNESCO for their wine-making on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List, here we’ll find more than 500 varieties of grapes out of 2,000, and a culture which is inextricably entwined with viticulture, where we as guests are considered blessings and hospitality is the very stuff of life.
And hence real wine lovers should really be looking to the Caucasus
我在 Eniseli 游览葡萄庄园、参观酒窖以及了解葡萄酒製作过程。酿酒师傅说当地酿酒採用别具特色的卵形陶器克维乌里酒缸 (Qvevri)，而这样的制作方法依然在格鲁吉亚盛行。格鲁吉亚的各个城镇、乡村的人们都用这种陶器来酿造和储存葡萄酒，这一传统在日常生活和佳节庆典中都扮演了重要角色，所有人都会加入葡萄收割和酿酒的活动中。
As the guardians of wine’s oldest traditions, many of Georgia’s winemakers still produce wine using traditional practice, and the resulting flavour is quite different from that of wines made using European techniques. In a visit to one of the many wineries in Eniseli, we observed the wine is fermented in a qvevri, a pointed earthware vessel similar to an egg-shaped amphora which is buried in the floor of the wine cellar. Though larger and modern wineries are growing in number, there are still thousands of small farmer using fairly traditional techniques, and it seems that every Georgian we met has the knowledge to impart about winemaking.
在格鲁吉亚的15天裡， 我被格鲁吉亚菜系搞得有点晕头转向，因为身处土耳其、阿塞拜疆、伊朗的附近，格鲁吉亚食物也受到一定影响。Featuring flavours from the Mediterranean, as well as influences from Turkey and Persia, Georgian food is almost like the original “fusion” cuisine…
所以除了各种传统的炖煮烹调和面包类的食物，烤肉算是我在格鲁吉亚最常吃的食物了。最有印象的食物是 Khachapuri，算是当地最上镜的食物之一，在烘培 Khachapuri 时，要把奶酪放在发酵好的面团上，再进行烤制，出炉时在麵包中间打上一颗生鸡蛋，鸡蛋会被高温迅速烫熟底层，而表面依然晶莹剔透。另一个充满中式风味的大褶包子 Khinkali 算是格鲁吉亚的国菜吧。和我们在中国吃的灌汤包在外型上有点相似，不同的是，Khinkali 是厚褶子的外型，内馅有猪肉和牛肉之外，还有蘑菰馅、奶酪馅、土豆馅等。要怎麽吃这道国菜呢？我参考了当地人吃 Khinkali 的方式是捏住顶端将汤包提起，轻轻咬破一个小洞后吸食汤汁，最后再把整个 Khinkali 吃下。但别忘了，手指捏着顶部的面团一般是不吃的，因为顶部皱摺的面皮非常厚，一般上也难以煮熟。
We’ve also developed a deep appreciation for Georgian cuisine and dishes during our 15-day trip, mainly due to helpful locals who enjoyed providing us with a quick and tasty education. With the presence of all kinds of meats being the main feature of Georgian cuisine, one of our favourites is actually the Khachapuri, a traditional Georgian cheese and egg bread which is best eaten hot. Using a spoon to stir the yolk and butter into the molten cheese, we then tear off a piece of fluffy crust to dunk into the cheesy well. Simply heavenly!
The Khinkali is another essential element of a Georgian feast. In fact, we were told that no supra (long dinner party) is complete without a platter of steaming Georgian dumplings being served toward the end of the meal. Stuffed with vegetable fillings such as cheese, potato or mushroom, or more commonly with a brothy spiced-meat filling, we observed how the locals would grab each dumpling by the handle and turn upside down, take small bites from the side and sucking out the hot broth before chewing their way into the filling. The doughy stem can then be discarded so that we’ll have room for even more of these addictive dumplings! 🤣
Although still relatively unknown or even, undiscovered, the Eden of the Caucasus has offered us many reasons to visit – its wine and delicacies, unique culture, flora and fauna and glorious mountains, thanks to Jason!
格鲁吉亚的美，岂止是高加索山的连绵雪山、古朴的碉楼或是古老的修道院，更是由历史碎片拼凑出的各种生活面貌，绝对适合到此一游。With beauty and drama at every turn, there’s no denying that this beautiful country enjoys the kind of “Old Testament” abundance that bespeaks God’s favour.
本文作者 Jason Lim，现和妈妈 (与伙伴的妈妈) 一起经营 Kafuka Cafe & Music Studio，同时也是脸书专页 [行走的人 THE WALKING MAN] 的幕后推手，若看官们此刻正在寻觅各国团游、毕业旅行策划与安排，行走的人已经为你们准备好了目的地，套句他们常说的话，「有些美好的时光一生只有一次，有些重要的事情错过就不会再有。」快联系他们吧！
And by the way, Kafuka Cafe & Music Studio is the product of two talented music professionals, venturing out on their own, where both mums were invited to helm the kitchen. Jason and Eric insist on serving only food and drinks made with great love and patience, as food served from the heart is most delicious.
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