Short Survival Guide For Vegetarians Visiting Georgia

Healthy eating is always a challenge

Sometimes travelling takes me away from the access to a kitchen for weeks and being a vegetarian means that I end up eating a lot of repetitive food. Not always, but it does happen and I find that some countries are better than others at supporting a vegetarian diet.

Although I always find an abundance of raw products everywhere I go, getting ready meals – not so easy!

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Everything is fresh, fresh, fresh!

The fragrance of ripe fruit is overpowering in the markets.
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I love to get lost in streets like this.

Last year I put a new layer on my eating habits and I made an effort to cut out wheat from my menu.

As healthy and beneficial as it sounds, it wasn’t the best decision to make just before travelling to Georgia.

I was nearly drooling when I saw this wonderful cheese lying there, waiting for me.
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Best condiments come from the babushkas in the street.
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Fragrant coffee – still warm from being freshly grounded!

Gonio-Apsaros & the Argonauts

I joined the University of Warsaw’s archaeological expedition and we were working on a site in a small village called Gonio, which is not far from Batumi.

Mighty Medea of Colchis – the granddaughter of the sun god Helios (Batumi).

Gonio is home to the oldest fortress in Georgia – Apsaros. Its oldest archaeological layers are dated to the XVII-XV century BC and the place is linked with the adventures of the Argonauts, which claim that this is the place where Apsyrtus, King Aet’s son killed by Jason, was buried.

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Gonio-Apsaros – the mystery, the legend & the home of a few archaeological expeditions from around the world.

A point of transit

Gonio’s grand days are long gone and today the village is just a transit point between Georgia and Turkey, offering the usual assortment that places of this kind offer: sleazy truckers, prostitutes and a lot of bad food.

What food to expect in Georgia?

Basically, Georgian cuisine is wonderful. Each historical province has its own distinct culinary tradition, so you get to try new dishes wherever you go.

Although it has a fair selection of vegetarian dishes, Georgia is a meat-eaters’ paradise. In order to satisfy hunger, vegetarians have to look a little deeper.

The most common ingredient of veggie dishes is eggplant and it is prepared in many different ways such as ajapsandali (eggplant, potato, tomato, bell pepper and seasoning) or badrijnis khizilala (“aubergine caviar”). However, all these are available only in real restaurants, which are non-existent in Gonio.

Thankfully, there was something that sustained me throughout the time I worked Gonio: khachapuri, in all the different types and forms that it comes.

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So much dough, so little time… And such a small stomach!

However, considering that khachapuri is a dish of cheese-filled bread, my no-wheat lifestyle had to be kicked out the door.

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My personal favourite: the Adjarian version of khachapuri called Adjaruli 🙂

No-wheat resolution going down the drain…

Well, every excuse is good as I love dough. Always have, always will. Trying to be healthy is one thing, being unable to eat things that we love is another.

The housing estate that was opposite the fortress was the most curious thing and it was also home to a Dough Kingdom ran by two lovely women.

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There’s so much love pressed into this dough!

Seeing them work tirelessly day after day in their tiny kitchen, which was hidden in the basement of one of the chaotic buildings, was putting life into perspective.

The living conditions pushed me to eat dough and I was doing it for a few weeks straight. I feel like I’ve eaten all the dough in Georgia. So, if there’s a dough shortage in the country – blame it on me!

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Adjaruli, nom nom nom.

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