Discover Georgia
Shaitan Bazaar and cuisine in old Tbilisi
20 August, 2018
Georgian cuisine has always been a part of the Georgian identity. It has been influenced by both Europe and Asia. Its exotic and unique characteristics are due to a variety of the products and ingredients coming from different parts of Georgia. Georgia’s regions are also distinguished by their particular cuisines accounting for the culinary identity of the whole country.

Shaitan Bazaar nowadays called Meidan Bazaar, used to be a major commercial square in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. Each day, the
bazaar would be visited by 20 000 people including foreigners from Greece, Iran, Armenia, India and other Europeans. Shaitan Bazaar was a business centre for the Caucasus region.
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Shaitan Bazaar, Photo courtesy: www.burusi.wordpress.com

As a specialist in Georgian cuisine, Dali Tsatava stated, “travellers said the square was a place which could instantly make people rich or poor”. There were pickpockets who would steal money from the traders. The latter could not be controlled but the quality of the food was. King Erekle II in the 18th century issued a law imposing responsibility on the Mayor of Tbilisi regarding the quality of food products being traded or sold. The expiry date on products was tightly monitored and checked during inspections on the square.
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Shaitan Bazaar, Photo courtesy: www.calendar.ge

Wine sellers called Sirajis used to market their products at a special place,Sirajkhana. They used to visit Kahketi (in the eastern part of Georgia, the region known for its variety of wine) for wine making. They used to monitor the collecting, crushing and labelling of grapes. In the autumn, the Sirajis would come back Tbilisi and sell their wines. The visits of the Sirajis to Kakhetian families was a big privilege for them so they used to organize feasts for their guests.

The Georgian restaurants used to provide a variety of dishes, a mixture of eastern and western cuisine. Some of the ingredients such as salt and fish came from Azerbaijan and Sevani (Armenia) respectively. The style of the restaurant was strict: extra noise or light were forbidden.
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Shaitan Bazaar, Photo courtesy: www.kvirispalitra.ge

The famous Alexandre Dumas wrote about Georgian feast traditions, and the tempting of foreigners with wine drinking. His host Ivane Kereselidze tried to get Alexandre drunk. Alexandre knew his intention and swopped the wine cups around. Meanwhile, Ivane not knowing they had been swopped got himself drunk. The following day, the Georgians said that it was impossible to beat a Kakhetian man in drinking wine and claimed that Ivane had intentionally gotten himself drunk so as to make his guest feel good.

First photo courtesy: www.kvirispalitra.ge

Related stories:

Amazing cuisine of Svaneti

Kakheti – The place to go in autumn

Best Georgian wines are revealed

“Kazantip” guests dancing to Georgian song in Anaklia


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