Georgia (and Genoa) in Odessa cuisine: Khachapuri
Food diplomacy: Genoese heritage in Odessa cuisine
Khachapuri is a most authentic Georgian dish. A baked flatten bread like an Italian focaccia resembling to a boat. Inside this boat shaped dough there is melted cheese, some butter and an egg. The entire yolk of the egg floating in the cheese signifies a sunset in the sea. You should mix well cheese, egg and butter (or the waiter usually makes it for the customers) and then start to soak pieces of baked dough starting from the outer corners.
Its name is a combination of two Georgian words: khacho, meaning cheese curds, and puri, meaning bread. Each region in Georgia has its own iteration of khachapuri, and the Adjarian (Adjaruli or Adjarsky style) version is the most popular. Adjara is the Georgian region on the Black Sea and the resemblance of the dish to a boat is due to the maritime culture.
A charming legend suggests that this dish is an heritage of the Genoese colonies of the Black Sea region between 1266 and 1475. One of these colonies was named Lo Vati (or Lo Bati), which corresponds to the present Batumi, incidentally the capital of Adjaria. One of the most representative dishes of Genoa is the “focaccia col formaggio” (a white pizza with cheese). Of course, khachapuri’s typical shape makes it an original Georgia dish (and there is no egg on the top of a Genoese focaccia). However, two centuries of Genoese presence probably left a taste of its cuisine.