Snow + BBQ = Georgian Winter.
16 February 2012
This Pacific Northwest girl isn't used to real snow. The snow I grew up with, in a suburb of Seattle, went a bit like this: First, spend a week with the local news teasing 'snow-mageddon'. Second, people race to the grocery stores and 'stock up'. Then, usually once per year, some snow would fall, look gorgeous and we'd go to school an hour late. Next, the snow would turn to rain. A day of ugly slush followed. Whole deal done and gone before you even really knew it began. With a few exceptions, that is what snow in the Pacific Northwest meant.
Here? In the former Soviet Union? Snow is a whole different story. Unannounced, it falls from the sky and people go on about their daily life, completely unfazed (while I fight the urge to race to the store and 'stock up'). Then, it keeps falling and falling and falling and falling... in huge beautiful fluffy flakes. And, finally, there is no rainy, slushy, snow-be-gone stage. The centigrade just drops to unfathomable temperatures and the snow from weeks ago remains in our back garden.
So, this last Sunday, in the late afternoon, surrounded by a blanket of snow, we stoked our Georgian BBQ and played and ate and laughed and relaxed, Georgian style.
Our locally purchased BBQ came complete with long swords for spearing the shashlik.* We've been using the BBQ since we arrived-- as my husband basically got off the plane and went shopping for a grill. But, we've only recently learned about using dried grapevines to add flavor to the shashlik. If someone would have told me sooner, I would have dried some of our own. But, luckily, the grocery store sells them alongside charcoals. And, you know what... they make a HUGE difference in flavor! Who would have known?!
As the BBQ smoked away, an epic snowball fight took place and snow angels were made. Deep red, dry, Georgian wine was sipped. The kids laughter bounced off of the concrete walls of our back garden. The baby, smartly, stayed warm in the kitchen while his big brother and sister served snowballs for licking through a quickly opened kitchen window. Hot chocolate was made and a hot meal, straight off the coals, ended our cold day.
And, that is how you enjoy a Georgian winter. As the week closes, we're gearing up for round two. Wherever you are, and however you spend your Saturday or Sunday afternoon, think of us as we fire up our grapevine stoked grill and make the best of a (still) snowy back garden. Supposedly, we're expecting another 'big snow', but that's according to local friends... and not a weather person forecasting snow-mageddon.
Pictures, left to right:
1. Our back garden dusted in snow
2. Epic snowball fight underway
3. Grape vines, dried and ready for the BBQ
4. Grape vines, close up
5. Our Georgian BBQ, complete with swords
6. The complete meal: walnut and pomegranate rolled eggplant, shashlik, fresh suluguni cheese, Shoti (local bread), Georgian potato salad and a beet/apple slaw.
*THE only way to eat grilled meats in this country, Shashlik is marinated cubes of meat speared onto swords and roasted over charcoals.