This past weekend I was lucky enough to be a guest at a truly unique dinner party. It was a family affair with each family representing a different country and bringing a dish from that place. Nationalities at the party (and on the menu) included Armenia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, New Zealand and Sweden.
The food and the company were inspiring. I loved hearing about the personal journeys that brought couples together, and tasting new flavors from places I have never been. The food brought by Allison and Luca, a native of Georgia, was a highlight. There was a delicious beef stew in a walnut sauce and a dessert called Churchkhela that I fell in love with. Churchkhela looks like a small sausage but is made of grapes, flour, walnuts and dried fruit. Someone joked it’s basically an ancient version of a Cliff bar but much tastier. Having just returned from a trip to Georgia, Allison brought the Churchkhela back with her. The walnuts in the beef stew were from an old walnut tree on Luca’s family’s land.
How wonderful it is when food connects us to culture, family and a sense of place. This is how so how many Europeans eat and probably many other cultures. Food has a story, meaning, and deep connection to a specific region and what grows there. Italy, the birthplace of the Slow Food movement, is a wonderful example of this. I studied in Siena, Italy in college, and while I was there I learned how to make Tiramisu. While not a terribly traditional dish, Tiramisu is still a favorite of mine, raw eggs and all. It is delicious and reminds me of my long-ago life in Siena. The recipe at the end of this article is very close to mine.
What meals have special meaning and memory for you, dear reader?