Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pizza Sojourn

A couple of years ago, I left the world of private practice to work at the Attorney General's Office.  Having not had a vacation in years, I asked the AGO if they could wait a few weeks before I started my new post.  I wanted to travel.  Big time.  I had no particular destination in mind, but wanted the place to be completely disconnected from anything familiar.  Although I ultimately ended up in Ecuador, I'd had my eyes set on places far and wide, from Tibet to Congo to Georgia.  Opting to eject any locales that were politically unstable, Tibet and Congo were out.  Georgia was not so stable either, but it is, if one believes what one reads online, a beautiful country with regal landscapes, centuries of fascinating Eurasian history, and diverse ethnic cultures.  I might have risked military coups had the photographs of their cuisine not looked so, ahem, dull.
Adjarian (or acharuli/adjaruli) khachapuri
This image of Georgian khachapuri, devoid of any seasoning, herb, or color, consoled me as I ate my way around Ecuador.  Ecuador is not known for its cuisine.  In the highlands, they have their own brand of meat and potatoes and lentil stew.  On the coast in Guayaquil en route to the Galapagos Islands, there is ceviche.  In the jungle, they have some interesting fruit that looked like it came from some Klingon colony planet.  They even have a certain South American delicacy: Cuy (guinea pig).  But that's it.  None of the food in Ecuador is all that exotic or mind-blowing.  So as I sat by the side of the road between Otavalo and the sacred Peguche Falls, sipping a Fanta while an old woman worked over a coal fire to cook the crap out of my spiced meat and potato dish, wondering why I had stubbornly decided to spend three weeks in Ecuador rather than, say, Tuscany, I remembered the khachapuri of Georgia.
That meal of dried up meat and potatoes was the 5th such meal I had eaten that week -- I desperately craved vegetables, ironic considering that Otavalo sits amidst a lush green countryside.  But at least I wasn't eating meal after meal after meal of boat-shaped pizza dough topped with butter and an egg.

Which brings me to the purpose of this post.  Project Foodbuzz's challenge this week is Pizza.  Everyone's putting their own spin on it, including one of my favorite contestants, Asha of Fork Spoon Knife.  Her pide from Turkey is remarkably similar in shape to khachapuri from, you guessed it, neighboring Georgia.  But of course every country and every ethnic culture puts their own spin on the pizza.  So as my own little side project, I'm going to take Asha's lead and follow the footsteps of pizza around the world (with a nod to Jules Vernes' Around the World in 80 Days).  From Italian pizza to Turkish pide to Georgian khachaprui, who knows where our versatile sauce-topped flatbread will end up.  If you, Readers, have some suggestions on where to go next from Georgia, let me know.

For now, I'm heading to northern India.  I'll do a little bit of research on the fate of the pizza in South Asia.  The only flatbreads I can think of at the moment are naan and poppadum.  Those flatbreads are perfect for putting stuff on, but neither of them come with the sauce and stuff already on them.  Somewhere between Georgia and India, the stuff fell off the dough (or did it go on... which came first, the naan or the khachapuri?).  It's about time I go investigate...

To be continued...


  1. Can't wait to follow along! :)

  2. It seems you've already succeeded in your investigation- that looks amazing. And I'm happy you've managed to carve out a little vacation time for yourself now- have fun in la bella India, my darling.

  3. Don't forget to have some chapatis and parathas when you're in India. Flat bread at its finest! Safe travels, friend. I can't wait to hear all about 'em when you return :)

  4. How fun! I had no idea the Georgian khachaprui looks so similar, at least in shape, to pide. I know this pizza journey will be super interesting and I'm excited to tag along.

  5. Woops, I meant to include other pizza-esque foods I know. When I was reading about pide, I saw lahmacun/lahmajun mentioned a lot. Back over on our side of the world, there's the huarache in Mexican cuisine. Having a hard time thinking of similar things in most other Asian cuisines though, other than okonomiyaki.

  6. well, in argentina they do an italian style pizza but then eat it on socca. in chile--they just eat regular american-style pizza. in kenya they eat a lot of chapati and puri. and that khachaprui looks gross.

    have fun!

  7. Oh I love that first image - I could eat one of this for breakfast right now! I can't wait to read more in this series!!!

  8. Next time come to Peru! We *are* known for our cuisine! ;) Good luck with the pizza! What a wonderful spirit of adventure you have!


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