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პური [puri] bread
Bread is baked in a cylindrical clay oven called a tone: it has a wide open top, and is firmly fixed into the ground, while a fire is lit right at the bottom. The bakers lean over the heated tone and slap the kneaded dough against the hot walls inside the oven with a long-handled or round ladle.
This is how bread is baked. The process is of ethnographical interest, although Georgian bread is not just some ethnographical relict in Georgia. Tone bread is the most popular variety produced in the country.
At the same time bread is not just bread. In many regions of Georgia, when you’re told ‘Let’s eat some bread,’ they don’t mean bread at all: they mean dinner. This is the origin of Georgian cuisine, which forms one of the bases of national self-identification.
Georgian cuisine is just as varied as the country itself. It has strong regional features, which makes these relationships even more interesting. For example, Kakhetian meat stew couldn’t be more different from Mingrelian millet hominy, while cheese bread as it tastes in Imeretia is utterly unlike the ravioli-like khinkali of Khevsureti.
Georgian cuisine bears the traces of many other influences, from the Mediterranean to India. Over the centuries its receptiveness has been truly enviable, and the consequences have been remarkable. It is the cuisine which is probably the quickest way to get to know Georgia and its taste.