Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Supra, A Feast of Georgian Cooking - Tiko Tuskadze

I was given this for Christmas, and it's been sitting by my reading chair ever since. I should probably do more than think about cooking from it, but so far I've so enjoyed reading it that there hasn't seemed much need to do more. There is also the consideration that a book named after, and revolving around, a traditional Georgian feast and culture of hospitality isn't going to be the first port of call for a quick supper for two.

'Supra' is also part memoir as so many cookbooks seem to be at the moment, it's what makes it such a pleasure to read, and I like the context it gives to the food here. Something else that hit me reading Tiko Tuskadze's reminiscences of her Georgian childhood were some of the similarities to Shetlands culture of hospitality. The food itself might have been very different (the true taste of Shetland is probably reestit mutton soup with bannocks followed by cake - anyone visiting Shetland in the summer should make a point of going to a Hall tea to truly understand how much Shetland appreciates a home bake) but the underlying principles of hospitality, and the value of extended family are the same.

This is definitely a book for people who want to spend time and make a little effort in the kitchen, there are key ingredients that might well need sourcing, blue fenugreek*, and marigold petals are two of these, and pastes used in so many recipes that making up good sized batches to have ready would be a good idea. Georgian food is so reliant on walnuts that a cash and carry membership so you can buy in suitable bulk would be desirable. It's weekend cooking, or more accurately party cooking - food to share with friends. It really makes me want to cook a feast, maybe even share my kitchen with other cooks (I normally do not like other people in my kitchen, but there's something about this book that reminds me of the good times and camaraderie of working in catering and kitchens).

Things it's making me particularly want to cook - borscht, which I think I've made for myself once (it wasn't a success) and really need to get to grips with. There's a chicken and walnut salad that sounds really good, and a couple of pork dishes that sound like winners too (pork with pomegranate and a plum sauce, and pork ribs in a sticky, spicy, tomato sauce) - but these are only the beginning. It's a beautiful book that has triggered a whole slew of happy memories.

*Tuskadze does offer ordinary fenugreek and saffron as alternatives, and she lists suppliers as well - and indeed she's very good at suggesting easier to get alternatives all the way through.

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