Samegrelo and philosophy of Ghomi
The traditions of an each nation are tightly connected with food and its gastronomic culture. Georgian cuisine can be described versatilely, but one of its main features is in its regional characteristics, original product and ways of preparation, as well as in spices which have no equal in western Georgia.
Today I will talk only about the Samegrelo region – a place where I was born, brought up, and where my home and roots are. I also want to highlight that Megrelian cuisine is very refined, interesting and versatile, presenting various gourmet dishes.
When I start thinking about the gastronomic culture of Samegrelo, all my sensor organs start to activate… Smoked Kupati with ghomi (millet), or Megrelian kharcho hot sauces, Megrelian khachapuri, kuchmachi-jurjani, elarji, piglet with ajika sauce and tkemali… hot dishes along with sad and melancholic songs.
Ghomi is a very important dish for Megrelians, it is regarded as ritual food and in ancient Samegrelo its preparation had several adaptable stages. The new epoch has changed lots of things, but in Samegrelo one can hardy imagine a ritual- funeral or celebration feast -without ghomi made from high-quality corn.
The preparation of ghomi was like a ritual. A groomed housewife in new clothing and with covered hair first sifted the corn flour, and then started to wash the ground flour, the first water, with so-called “ghomi milk” was kept separately and this liquid was added while boiling, in order to keep its special aroma. Ground flour was washed several times and then kept in a special pot ‘chuani’. This pot had a thick top and was only used for making ghomi. If someone ‘dared’ to cook another dish in this pot, it was seen as an of insult to the dish. People had separate and high-quality firewood of hornbeam, beech or oak trees for boiling this dish. While making ghomi, it needs stirring in several times and a housewife always had her hair covered when she came close to the pot. It was a kind of insult for a woman in Samegrelo if someone said about her ‘she is the type of woman who makes ghomi with uncovered and disheveled hair’. Ghomi was tastier after being stirred in many times.
How to guess that ghomi is ready? When it becomes like porridge and has a dried ‘belt’ with an appetizing smell. Ghomi was mixed in a special mixer and while being put on a plate the mixer was soaked. As soon as the housewife put ghomi on a plate, she began to wash the mixer, because it was an embarrassment for both ghomi and family to leave the mixer unwashed even for a little while.
Ghomi was regarded not only as a nutritious and digestible ritual food, but also as a curative dish and its first foam was an indispensable remedy for nursing moms. Men also used this dish for different purposes and tried to escape hangovers by adding savories and pepper to ghomi.
There are many anecdotes about ghomi in Samegrelo, but still this dish is tightly connected with rituals and traditions and is regarded as one of the most important components of a feast. It is a revered food for guests.
Much can be said about the gastronomic culture of Samegrelo… I am in love with this brisk, open-minded, hot-tempered and accurate people and I am really proud to be a little part of their ancient spirit.
PHOTO : ANA BOKO