Last July, I started cooking recipes from the Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries. The ghost haunting my kitchen decided to ask me some questions about this activity. Here is the transcript of our discussion.
Ghost: Where does the idea of cooking food from the EaP countries come from?
Ambroise: Funnily enough, it started from a misunderstanding on my side. With the people of the Georgia Working Group, we came up with the idea of organising an event where people from the EU and UK would try to cook some traditional Georgian dishes. But for some reason, I thought that the day we wanted to discuss the event was already the day on which we wanted to cook, and thus organised myself accordingly. When the day came, I was the only one ready to cook, but since I had bought all the ingredients, there was no coming back anymore (and I was pretty excited at the idea of eating Georgian food anyway).
G.: What did you cook?
A.: Actually, I couldn’t decide between two traditional dishes (khinkali and khatchapuri) so I decided to buy the ingredients for both and cook both of them, on two different days. I documented the baking and cooking process and posted it on social media. People from other EaP countries started asking me to cook food from their country as well, and that’s how I ended up baking some Moldovan placinte as well. After the holiday, I will then try to find new recipes for the countries I haven’t covered yet.
G.: How easy or how hard was it to cook those recipes?
A.: It depends. First of all, I’m very lucky to have an Eastern European shop very close to my place, which made it possible for me to cook with the correct ingredients. For each dish, I also chose a wine from the same country, in order to have the full gastronomical experience. Then, when it comes to the actual cooking, I think that the placinte was the biggest challenge because you have to stretch the dough to the point it is almost translucent, and I didn’t have a rolling pin at that time (instead, I used the aforementioned wine bottles). Stretching the dough without breaking it really wasn’t easy; but also, the khinkali weren’t that easy to make either, and it took me some time to find the trick to give them an acceptable shape.
G.: What was the best dish you cooked?
A.: Honestly I couldn’t say. All of them were very different but also really delicious in their own way. From a purely technical point of view, I think that the khinkali were the ones I managed to do best.
G.: How did people react to your cooking?
A.: As I said, I posted everything on social media, which means that my cooking had some outreach. I had a lot of very positive feedback, especially from the people that came from the countries I cooked food from, which was really heart-warming. A handful of people also asked me for the recipe I used and/or to cook the food for them, and I’m very glad to be taking part in promoting the (culinary) culture of the EaP countries.
Question: what will you cook next?
A: I still hope for the YEAs cooking event to take place. Sharing cooking tips and experiences would be really cool!
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