I am not a foodie, but if I stayed in Georgia long enough, I would be. Georgian fruits and nuts are plentiful and delicious. Georgian wine is known throughout the region. The use of fresh herbs is subtle.
One of the benefits of working at LLC Credo is lunch. For several years, one of the staff members, Eva Shermadini, provided delicious lunches for staff. She had a staff of 2 cooks who worked in her home and a driver who would deliver food to the office. Eva would make salads and do prep work the night before, and the next day the other cooks would prepare the meals while Eva worked in the Credo office as a housekeeper. At lunch time, she would go to the kitchen and set up the food.
Beef cutlets with herbs; tolma (or dolma from the Turkish)--cabbage leaves stuffed with ground beef, rice and spices and covered with herbs; fresh cucumber and tomato salads with basil; and cooked eggplant mixed with red bell pepper, chilled and formed in balls with pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top are just a few of the dishes that can be found in the lunchroom. One day last week, Eva brought in a delicious moussaka on a round platter, and "shuba", which means "fur coat" in Russian (a salad with potatoes, beets and a generous spread of parsley and dill on top). Blinchiki (thin crepes filled with ground beef and pan fried) is another dish adopted from Russia. Kuftas are meat balls made with ground beef, rice and spices. Mchadi look like sugar cookies, but are a pan fried, savory snack made from corn meal, salt and water and eaten with Georgian cheese. Georgian cheese is a smooth tasting, white cheese that many villagers make at home. It is not salty like Armenian cheese.
In Georgia, you will find khachapuri (cheese baked inside bread) made many different ways. ("Puri" means "bread" in Georgian; my Georgian co-worker tells me "khacha" has no meaning.) Eva's is the best. She uses a layered dough like philo and bakes it to golden perfection.
You should not be late to lunch. One day I was finishing up something and arrived twenty minutes late. The last of the dishes were being washed. Credo staff comes to lunch promptly at 1:00, eats, and gets back to work. Often the 24-seat lunchroom is full and people leave to make room for other staff members.
Yesterday was Eva's last day. She is going to Poland to work. I was sad to see her go. She took special care to make sure I got first choice of the food. I enjoyed speaking Russian with her. I wanted to share one of her recipes with you, but she was busy getting ready to leave. Lunch will continue but it won't be the same without Eva.
If you would like to see the loans that this hard working, well fed staff is working on, please see Georgian Loans.
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Amy is a native of Dallas, TX. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Russian Studies from Trinity University in San Antonio and lived in St. Petersburg, Russia for 3 years. While in St. Petersburg, she worked for a venture capital company and helped establish a Russian-American School of Management. Amy just finished Peace Corps service as a Community Business Development Volunteer in Armenia where she also volunteered at Heifer International. She is spending an intensive 6 weeks reconnecting with friends and adjusting to being home before heading back out to the Caucasus where she will serve as a Kiva Fellow in Georgia and Armenia.