“Nobody Eats As Much Cheese As Georgians”
26 April, 2012
“Nobody Eats As Much Cheese As Georgians”

Cheese Festival Touring around Kakheti

There are many countries in the world, including Holland, Switzerland, France and Italy, and probably many more. However, none of them could possibly rival with Georgia in the extreme devotion towards this product. We eat cheese not as a supplement but as the inseparable part of the main course. To prove this, the village Tsinandali of Telavi Municipality, Kakheti region, hosted a grandiose Festival of Cheese on April 21.

We, Georgians, have an expression “cheese,

bread and kind heart”, which denotes the significance of these two gastronomic components. The organizer was the Georgian Ministry of Agriculture. Splendid environment of Tsinandali museum-palace premise that belonged to the nobleman and famous romantic poet Alexandre Chavchavadze was a perfect venue for loads of visitors coming from the capital as well as from different parts of Georgia, foreign tourists included. During the festival everyone had an opportunity to taste and buy various types of Georgian cheese made in accordance with ancient traditional recipes. About 40 companies and individual producers from all regions of Georgia participated in the event. At the festival one could catch a glimpse of original figures and traditional elements of Georgian “Supra” both made of cheese.
All those who attended the event, had a nice opportunity to observe an interesting and diverse technology of production of Georgian cheese. Besides the popular types of Georgian cheese present at the Georgian market there were ancient and almost forgotten ones. Even for Georgians, it was a very surprising discovery, as until very recently, almost each of us was dead sure that all we can boast of is four species of cheese. The public was offered different Georgian dishes made with Georgian cheese such as: Khachapuri from all regions of Georgia, Elarji(Polenta with cheese), Kveri (Khinkali-like dough with cheese), etc.
Georgian Journal spoke to several participants. The first one was Igor Pichkhaia, Deputy Head of Chkhorotsku Municipality, Samegrelo region. “While producing cheese the local population uses the curing mineral water Lugela that has no analogue in the world. However, from the scientific point of view, this water is not fully researched until today. It is the mere fact that the cheese made of this water is of much higher quality and healthier. Nevertheless, the impact itself that it has on the process of improving the taste of cheese is not known.”  Mr. Pichkhaia considers that this is the matter of the nearest future – the matter of Georgian scientists and hopefully, foreign researchers too. “Professional certificate is necessary on the basis of which it will be possible to use this mineral water in the wide scope in the realization of cheese. It is almost one century that this water is applied for this purpose among the population, but it still waits for the scientific license.”
Erekle Gamkrelidze, Deputy Director General of Sante GMT said: “It is our debut today in the direction of cheese producing. We are presenting three types of cheese: Karkhnuli, Imeruli and Sulguni. They represent a synthesis of the traditional technology and modern equipment. They are of highest quality and very tasteful and that’s why this festival is very important for us as it gives a chance to make acquaintance between the population and our brand-new products. “
Ana Mikadze, Head of project “Georgian Cheese” (Kartuli Kveli) that is financed by the Department of Tourism of Georgia, is a philologist who has recently devoted herself to ethnography, namely research of Georgian cheeses. She had a protest that there was a milk vessel dating back to 28 centuries in Mtskheta Museum, and how could Georgia possibly have only four species of cheese? Her prediction came true. “As soon as they became aware of the existence of this project, enormous interest was arisen from the party of all the spheres – including ordinary people, singers, government officials, etc. They were all asking: how possibly can we help you? This denotes that together with Georgian wine, cheese also has a particular charm. This is a favorite product for Georgians. Nobody in the world eats such a huge amount of cheese starting from morning, ending with dinners and suppers. Everywhere in the world cheese is a dessert while for us it is an essential part of everyday meals.”
Ana Mikadze confesses that by launching the project, they have touched the very pride of consumers. “We have this ‘cultural pearl’ in abundance. The amplitude of species has encouraged even more supporters. This is the fourth festival within the two years. There are almost 40 types of cheese between Imeruli and Suluguni. Such festivals enhance the links between producers and firms. Our enterprise is constantly receiving foreign visitors. Last, we hosted a very serious group from Baltic country, which has 180 tones of milk per day. They say that this is the future of the world cheese as they are sick and tired of cheese with emulators. The privilege of our cheese is taste, quality and naturalism. Our cheeses can live for around two years in their natural environment. Such cheese are expensive everywhere. Some of them are for sale in Goodwill and around 40 of them in Cheese Corner shop, including cheese of cow, buffalo, goat and sheep. We don’t offer shops, they give us orders themselves,” Ana Mikadze concluded. 
Davit Bakradze, Speaker of the Parliament also attended the event: “It is important that this branch develops and this is good not only for us locally but also for the enhancement of tourism. It serves to the popularization of the country that will reflect in more number of foreign visitors,” he noted.
Zaza Gorozia, Minister of Agriculture stated: “Such events must take place often. We have already registered 13 species of cheese and intend to register 50 species more in the near future.”     
Georgia is known as the homeland of wine while production of cheese counts 28 century history, but this information is not paid too much attention. The event aimed at: Presenting ancient methods of production of Georgian cheese, its varieties and accessing it to consumers; Finding new farmers, Cheese factories and establishing business relations between them and potential partners. This very event will facilitate popularization of Georgian cheese and raise awareness among foreigners living in Georgia as well as among local population and consumers. All this in future perspective will help Georgian cheese to become more recognizable thus, reach and settle in international markets.

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