Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rustavi: Levan's Farm

My hostess, her son, and Levan

Remember that day when Nino and I walked through the "big marketi" and we were sort of accosted by a factory owner (and the curious woman gave me a loaf of bread)? The business owner had invited me and Nino to come for dinner at his house. 

So tonight was the night that Giorgi, Nino, and I joined Levan and his parents for a supra at their farm. The three of us walked over to the big market, then Levan drove us to his farm on the Mt'k'vari River, on the outskirts of Rustavi - perhaps a mile or so from our flat.

The farm is near the banks of the Mt'k'vari River. You can see Rustavi's "commie flats" from there, but it is like being in another world. An agrarian world.

First, Levan took us to see the river:

Mt'k'vari River

Levan and "Giorgi" by Mt'k'vari River. Rustavi on left.

I liked the contrast between Rustavi and the river farm:

We toured Levan's farm:

Corn and tomato fields

Ladder to roosting tree

Cattle, sheep, and symbiotic birds

Old sawmill


Pinot grapes


Fowl roosting in tree

Tethered hen with her chicks

Old wine cask

After our tour, we sat at the supra table, which Levan's parents had set up outside. Levan's mother is quite beautiful, and the photo below doesn't do her justice.

Levan and his parents

After the farm tour, as we sauntered back from a trip to the pit toilet, I wondered aloud to my hostess, Nino, in my pathetic Georgian, if there weren't some eligible bachelorette in her family who might be married off to Levan. Nino laughed at this, and promptly shared same with Levan and his family. (There are no secrets in Georgia.) It was moot, as I learned he has a wife and two sons who are currently in the village. ("The village" is all that is necessary to say - "I'm going to the village." "My wife/husband/children/parents are in the village." It is understood that "the village" is that which one's maternal or paternal lines call "home.")  

So, anyway, as soon as we all sat down, the drinking and eating began. Nothing fancy food-wise, but good: khinkali, both usual size and tiny; Georgian hot dogs, bread, watermelon, honeydew melon, and a sour cream-like accompaniment to the khinkali. To drink was cognac, beer, and later, either chacha or vodka, not sure which. I stuck to the cognac. (Cognac seems to be the drink of choice for Georgian ladies. Now that I've had several samples of same, I find I most like the least sweet.)

Late into the evening, Levan's mother got up to check on some cheese she was in the process of making. One pot had already "given up" its cheese; Levan's mother was coaxing the cheese into being in a second pot.

The cheese, at both stages of development (one "born," you might say, and the other still in the womb), seemed to be a living thing. And Levan's mother handled it in a tender, motherly way.

Turning the "newborn" cheese in its basket

Draining the "newborn" cheese

Adding bits  of cheese from the "womb"

Coaxing a cheese into "birth"

Drinking and eating continued. Though I should say, the eating pretty much stopped, but the drinking continued.

Once enough liquid was imbibed, Levan's father was persuaded to play his instruments and sing.

OK, video quality not too good and I was running low on battery life, but maybe you get the idea.

Levan announced he had a gift for me. When I saw it, I was so touched by the generosity. Overwhelmed. Except to comment several times: "I don't know what to say."

It is a wine cask, complete with tap. You drink out of the horns or the cups. The rule is that if you choose a horn, you must drink it at one gulp. There's no putting it down til it's empty. It's a testosterone thing. So don't even think to choose the horn unless you are prepared to follow through.

What a rich experience to visit Levan's farm and his family with Giorgi and Nino.

I got to bed at 2:00 a.m. My teaching assistant informed me the next sleepy morning that this was early. In effect, only wusses complain about getting home at 2:00. Six a.m. might be something to talk about.



matt diller said...

Wow! What an amazing post. So rich with beauty and life. Thanks for sharing this trip to Levan's farm. We'll miss you at the reunion and yet your story will surely arise I imagine around a campfire and under a waxing moon. I will be sure to pull out my Ipad and show pics of that very unusual drinking vessel and then even those who do not drink will suddenly wish to take a swig and smack their lips at the moon in approval of your adventures. So look at the moon this weekend and know we are looking back. Much love to you sister.

Mzuri said...

Loved the bit about smacking their lips at the moon! I'll definitely look at the moon this weekend and think of all at the reunion! Love returned.

Terry Arter said...

WOW, what a great adventure you are having. Your accounts of these are great. I really enjoy! Terry