I’ve been really quiet for a while here,
And I’m sorry for that.
However, It's been a helluva ride, so here’s something to devour
Georgian street food!
First, we need to define street food to something we can work with. For this, basically anything that you can walk up, buy/order and walk off with. No sitting at the restaurant. No tables or table service. No frills. Just food, and go.
Georgia has two main types; Shaurma and the Satskhobi (Georgian: საცხობი).
The first is a more Turkish/Arab invention brought through cultural influence as well as historical connection. The latter is an interesting fast-food option around cities and towns, even some villages, in Georgia.
The reason I label the latter in the Georgian name is that many in the West, particularly America, see and think of a bakery differently than what they are here. As such, I even refer to them in speech as satskhobi rather than bakery, as I see them differently. They provide a different product and operate in a fundamentally different manner.
Shaurma in Georgia is meat, typically chicken but also beef or lamb, with tomatoes, lettuce, some kind of mayo-based special sauce, pickled hot peppers, and whatever else the owner deems necessary all wrapped up in lavash. Lavash is a flat wrap-style or tortilla-style bread.
While not particularly healthy, it is exceptionally satisfying. This is definitely a diet buster, but also a hunger buster for those so famished that they require something with heft and meat. I know this is under street food, but some of these hefty beasts require one to take a seat as they devour the hot bread-wrapped tube of meat and veggies.
There’s no shame in settling down to enjoy this, but in a pinch, it can absolutely be engulfed on the move. To the amazement of onlookers, the consumption will most likely leave its trademark on your clothing. Nothing sacrificed is nothing gained.
Each vendor will have their special mixture of spices and sauces, but the real trick is the meat. Available in chicken, lamb, or pork most commonly, what you choose will determine the texture and flavor of your shaurma. Choose wisely.
Often, you will be offered sides such as fries, chicken nuggets, or even baked potato wedges. Don't be so easily led astray, as the girth of the shaurma should be the only component to this luxurious meal. Aside from a cold beer to help wash down the plethora of pleasure, there should be no other sidekick to this hero.
For those with a more demanding palette, adding a dribble of hot sauce to the shaurma as you chomp along is perfectly acceptable. The chef often will add pickled hot peppers that will bring their own heat, though I have found myself at times with a desire for more heat.
Whatever you choose, the only difficulty will be in finding a way to not enjoy this hot packet of meat, vegies, sauce, and joy.
Second; the Satskhobi
Much like the shaurma shops, these little bakeries are everywhere. Often family run and attached to the owners home or apartment building, they all have their own little differences. Despite seemingly serving the same items, you’ll undoubtedly find texture and flavor differences in each shop. Exploring these differences is half the fun.
The setup of the Satskhobi is fairly standard. A small window or counter is adjacent to a window or covered display case. Inside, the pastries lie in wait. Each one will typically be labeled, as they can look somewhat innocuous from one another.
Fillings range from meat and spices, potatoes, cheese, hot dogs, or vegetables. There are even sweet variations with chocolate spread, berries, fruits, or a mixture of all these. Sweet, savory, or both, they have you covered.
In addition to the wide variety, they are exceptionally inexpensive and typically sold with napkins and a small plastic bag, making mobile dining all too easy. This, complemented with a coffee or juice makes for the perfect breakfast on the way in, a quick lunch on the go, or a hunger buster on the way home.
Paired with a beer, it's a relaxing way to spend an evening. Purchasing several varieties and cutting them up onto a platter makes a tasty guest dish for a night in with friends. In addition, they are easily reheated in a matter of seconds.
Their low cost also gives a good home to the small change left in one’s pockets after a day at the market. There really isn't a reason not to stop by on the way home to get a light snack.
These street foods are not just found in the cities and towns. Small villages and vendors seemingly in the middle of nowhere will have these, hot and ready. They’re such a staple of life and a part of the Georgian mentality that no one should be hungry, at any time, any place.