27.05.2015. For most Westerners, the states of the former Soviet Union bring to mind something of a culinary wasteland. Blame the Gulag, Cold War-era propaganda, and black and white photos of miles-long bread lines: whatever the source, our associations tend toward "bleak," "frozen," and "scarce." That's why Georgia's rich culinary traditions often come as a surprise to visitors, who tend to expect something more, well, proletarian.
Georgia's government has been working hard to shift foreigners' expectations about the nation's cuisine and to promote it as a "must-taste" destination for food and wine tourists through participation in international tourism and wine fairs, wine tastings, and distribution of plenty of swag. Yet as a small country with a big (and much better-known) bear on its back, it's an uphill battle. The fact that Georgia shares its name with a U.S. state further complicates matters in North America.
Not surprisingly, most international visitors to Georgia come from the neighboring countries of Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Ukraine. Georgia's National Tourism Administration (GNTA) has focused its marketing efforts thus far on slightly farther-flung places with which Georgia has direct flight connections, particularly in Europe and Israel. Teona Nanava, chief specialist in the brand development department of the GNTA, told me in a conversation late last year that they hope to expand their presence in the U.S. soon.