16 October 2012
I have been so fortunate to live across the street from a delicious katchupuri stand.
The kids and I take a break from our school day around noon and walk across the street, carrying our baking pan and a handful of coins. We order the delicious adjarouli (look for a recipe coming soon)-- a kind of Georgian hole-in-the-toast, or a soft, pillowy lobiani (a paper thin crust of dough in the shape of a pizza, but filled with mashed kidney beans), or katchupuri (similar to the lobiani in shape and thinness, but filled with salty, melted Georgian cheese) or the penavani (a flaky pastry in a square shape filled with a bit of cheese and air). All are served piping hot and all are made to order. We place our pan on the little window, through which we express a Georgian hello ("Gamargobot!") and are greeted by the woman who owns the stand and lives upstairs from her hot, rustic 'commercial' kitchen.
Even greater than the experience of eating her food is the friendship we've forged. This morning, just as she was preparing to push open the window of her stand and sweep off the sidewalk, she rang our doorbell and presented us with a beautiful bowl full of pomegranates and grapes. She included a liter of homemade wine, bottled into a plastic, reused soda bottle and a side of the candy coating used to make churchkeli (a Georgian candy made out of grape juice and flour, then coated over nuts). All of the items were homemade or grown in her home village, which she had visited over the weekend.
And, tonight, after she closed the window to her stand and shut off the lights, she appeared on our doorstep with another plate of churchkeli. Her reasoning for the second plate? She thought the kids may have enjoyed the first small plate and wanted me to be able to have a treat after they were tucked into bed!
Tomorrow, I plan to return the beautiful tray she provided the grapes and pomegranates on. But, rather than arriving at her shop's window empty handed, I'll wake early and put my own kitchen to good use as I prepare a few homemade treats to fill that tray and return the favor.