Return to Transcripts main page
Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown
Tbilisi, Georgia. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired May 22, 2016 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[21:00:21] (SINGING IN GEORGIAN)
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, CNN HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": To Georgia.
BOURDAIN: Georgia is probably a place you don't know much about. Few Americans, I suspect, could place it on a map. It's small compared to the super around it but vital. Its significance far exceeding its relative size. For nearly 70 years, it was a Soviet Republic, and since independence in 1991, Georgia has been on a wild and often deeply troubled ride as it struggles to obtain and maintain democracy. There has been a civil war, regional strife, and numerous provocations and invasions by Russia. Geopolitically, it's located in a hot spot, a strategic crossroads surrounded by Russia, Turkey, Armenia, oil- producing Azerbaijan and just a short distance away Syria and Iran.
I wanted very much to see Georgia, but in November of 2015, I was having a very tough time getting there. The hard realities of a television production schedule required me to be in Georgia's shiny new version of Vegas on the sea, Batumi, but here I was stuck in Istanbul. Hurricane-like weather conditions grounded my flight on the other side of the sea. It's an unforgiving medium, television. And a first principle is that one minute you're on top of the world, next minute replaced by a younger, prettier face. Somebody hungrier with fire in their belly.
ZAMIR: To, to, to, to, to bah live from Batumi.
BOURDAIN: I knew just such a person. Someone who'd been hungering for my job for ages.
ZAMIR: Peter Piper picked a pack of pickled peppers.
BOURDAIN: I'm talking about Zamir, of course. Only a short flight away in Moscow and ready at a drop of a hat to jump on a plane and be my eyes and ears in Batumi. I may have misrepresented things a little bit. I may have promised him a reoccurring role in the show. But I needed somebody on the ground, and I needed him quickly.
ZAMIR: This is CNN.
When the producers of the American television program, "PARTS UNKNOWN" telephoned me and explained that I wouldn't have to pay for anything I took from the mini bar, I was confident this was the break I was waiting for. Maybe this was the glorious future for me in cable news.
UNIDENTIFIED CREW MEMBER: Can you go a little bit to your right, Zamir? Right -- a little more.
ZAMIR: But just when my -- for becoming next Wolf Blitzer are about to come true, Tony arrives, smashing my hopes on the reef of television broken dreams.
Please, feel at home now, like it's Georgia. And now, it could be another state, right?
BOURDAIN: You know. How did you get here? What, via what route?
ZAMIR: Luckily, there was a direct flight twice a week through Moscow to Batumi.
[21:05:13] BOURDAIN: Two and a half hours, that's all?
ZAMIR: Yes, just --
BOURDAIN: Ugh, all right, what are we drinking, Zamir?
ZAMIR: Do you feel like you're rea for some tropical feel? Because I have some surprise of Cha-Cha. It's like moonshine.
BOURDAIN: Okay, yes, I'll have -- I'll try that because apparently, apparently I'm going to be drinking a lot of it while I'm in Georgia. This is I understand a --
ZAMIR: It's a part of local hospitality, but it's over 40 degrees like alcohol proof, so welcome to Georgia. Hope it will be an interesting trip for you.
BOURDAIN: Thank you. If we were to go to a casino tonight, for instance, what do you think?
ZAMIR: What is your game of choice? Poker?
ZAMIR: Yes, maybe or --
ZAMIR: Roulette, yes.
ZAMIR: Maybe, roulette would be --
ZAMIR: That's -- that's quick.
BOURDAIN: Baccarat, James Bond played baccarat.
ZAMIR: Not that good at that, but let's see what they have.
BOURDAIN: Not much going on in Batumi off-season as it turns out. The casinos are still going for the benefit mostly of Turkish dudes hopping across the border from their country where such vices are frowned upon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seventeen, 14, 16, 13. Blackjack.
BOURDAIN: Ewwff, brutal. Tough day at the office. There's that great philosopher Wesley Snipes once said, "Always bet on black." Going all in, Zamir.
BOURDAIN: Come on black. Come on, black. Yes!
ZAMIR: It's a good start, Tony.
BOURDAIN: Let it ride.
ZAMIR: Run, rabbit, run.
ZAMIR: You need some nightlife. I mean, the losers deserve some relieve, right?
BOURDAIN: Yes, nothing like a loser in a nightclub and I emanate loser, so let's go.
ZAMIR: Let's go.
BOURDAIN: Unsurprisingly, Zamir and I suck at gambling with a force equivalent to a thousand suns. I should have just pulled my pants down and handed over my money the second we walked into the door. But actually, that came later.
BOURDAIN: I'm memorized by this bowl of electronic snakes. Oh, they're changing colors, either that or I have a brain hemorrhage.
ZAMIR: No, they're changing colors.
BOURDAIN: Oh, everything seems fine.
ZAMIR: Yes, Larina, Raki, Raki, yes, Raki -- two Rakies. Tony, maybe it's time to think of a New Year's resolution once you have inspiring moment.
Tony, this is an interesting moment in my life. I'm trying to get something going on and I want to go crazy with you tonight --
BOURDAIN: What happed -- you grew up in Turkey?
[21:12:35] BOURDAIN: Batumi in daytime is a strange looking place. Not exactly forlorn off-season, just odd. A mix of what are obviously big dreams and current realities. What is going on here? They're building everywhere -- commercial and residential properties rising up out of the ground every few yards. It goes on and on. I meet up with Zamir at Sazandari, one of the cities older, more traditional joints.
ZAMIR: Tony. How are you feeling?
BOURDAIN: Like something crawled inside my head and defecated and then died.
ZAMIR: Listen, I think we're getting old.
BOURDAIN: Getting? Although, you're looking very svelte I have to say, I'm impressed.
ZAMIR: I -- you're kidding me.
BOURDAIN: Ah, you look good up on that pole.
ZAMIR: Now listen, if we are on the Black list again, I think that's the end of my career, but you know --
BOURDAIN: It was a brief, but magnificent pole-dancing career I can tell you. You went out in a flame of glory.
ZAMIR: I wasn't aware they're so puritan kind of, you know, country and people are kind of, you know, I thought they had some sense of humor, but --
BOURDAIN: Hair of the dog.
ZAMIR: Yep, hmm.
BOURDAIN: Yes, we're eating, what's --
ZAMIR: Well, actually traditionally, you know, Georgia is the man's world. I mean, men drink, eat, party and the women normally do know how to make people healthy and alive next morning after heavy drinking. So Khashi, it's kind of broth and it's made of beef bones an joints, so the whole idea is just to suck out whatever alcohol still remains.
BOURDAIN: So it's a hangover soup?
ZAMIR: It's hangover soup. BOURDAIN: Oh yes, there's tripe in there.
ZAMIR: Yes, all the joints.
BOURDAIN: This is not the first thing I think of for hangover actually.
ZAMIR: Oh, really?
BOURDAIN: Maybe this will help.
ZAMIR: It goes well with garlic. You tried it?
BOURDAIN: Yes, I just dumped a whole bunch of garlic in there.
ZAMIR: You think it's marketable in the states as a real hangover dish -- a thing that should be a lot of clientele?
BOURDAIN: Hmmm, no.
ZAMIR: No, not really?
BOURDAIN: The Khashi is not really working for me, but I absolutely love the Shahashuli (ph), the stew of slow-cooked veal with onion and tomato, heavily seasoned with coriander, fennel, garlic and chilies. Spicy! I mean, it's really like got some good zing in there.
ZAMIR: Yes, feeling better?
BOURDAIN: I am.
BOURDAIN: So, what has the club called offering you a job?
ZAMIR: Not yet. I mean, there's very tough competition on that front. To Georgia -- a local toast.
BOURDAIN: As grateful as I am for him stepping in my time of need, it's time for Zamir to head back off to Moscow. I ain't no fool -- the man clearly wants my job. Tbilisi, in the Eastern part of the country, is Georgia's capital city and it's very different in every respect from Batumi's off-season amusement park vibe. It's an old city founded in the 5th Century but also a very new city. 1.2 million people building their own world freshly emerged from some very, very dark times. It's a pretty incredible story, strong, rock-solid Orthodox hell of a lot of years under the Soviet boot, years of totally Wild West gangster-ism, endemic corruption. Now, it's a very different story. Tbilisi is changing fast.
So, I don't know what it says about a place that since I've arrived in this country, I've been in a literally a constant state of, I'm either drinking or hung-over.
PAUL RIMPLE, JOURNALIST: Yes, yes.
BOURDAIN: Or both.
RIMPLE: Yes, yes.
BOURDAIN: Is that normal?
RIMPLE: That's normal, yes, especially for visitors.
BOURDAIN: They're friendly here.
RIMPLE: But it's a friendly kidnapping, you know?
BOURDAIN: Well, I actually -- I've read accounts of people who've actually were kidnapped in this country, who --
RIMPLE: Yes, yes. It happened once with, uh, U.N. monitors --
BOURDAIN: They came back like ten pounds heavier and hung-over?
RIMPLE: They -- they found them in a cabin up in the mountains partying. They had bumped into a wedding party and were there for two days.
BOURDAIN: So how long have you lived here?
RIMPLE: Oh, about 12 years, 12, 13 years.
BOURDAIN: So you've been hung-over for 12 years?
RIMPLE: Yes, yes. Pretty much.
[21:17:11] BOURDAIN: Paul Rimple is an American-born journalist and he's seen it all. He takes me to Tbilisi's old city to eat at the Gabriadze Cafe. When you first arrived, who was -- who was running things back then?
RIMPLE: Eduard Shevardnadze.
BOURDAIN: Ah, those were -- so the bad old days.
RIMPLE: Yes, and it's a real mixed legacy because the nation was still functioning as an outlaw ex-Soviet, you know, nation. Then, Saakashvili just, kind of, emerged and the Rose Revolution happened, you know, and everything changed.
BOURDAIN: The country has run through a number of heads of states since the end of Soviet rule. First, was the former Minister of Foreign Affairs to the Soviet Union, Eduard Shevardnadze who was ousted in 2003. But to get a handle on Georgia today, you must understand the importance of one man. Mikheil Saakashvili. After Shevardnadze, he was elected president in 2004 and began to change everything. Misha, as everybody knew him, transformed the country. And by making friends in the West, in Europe, and the U.S., he gained a lot of attention, both good and bad. In 2013 though, he was ousted by the Georgian dream party who are still in power today.
Most Americans watching this show will have a hard time even locating Georgia on a map.
BOURDAIN: What do you think people need to know about this country?
RIMPLE: Two things in Georgia that are untouchable -- the church. Don't mess with the church and don't mess with Georgian food.
BOURDAIN: Don't mess with Georgian food?
BOURDAIN: Don't mess with the church -- okay, I get it. But to the food, why?
PAUL: Because, um, it's tradition. You don't mess with tradition.
BOURDAIN: I'm quickly finding that the cuisine here is really good -- really complex with sweet, sour notes that are reminiscent of, I don't know. I just know that it feels hauntingly familiar yet, utterly new and delicious. Salad with orange, almonds and honey. Grilled lamb ribs with tomograt (ph) sauce. Slices of fried eggplant wrapped around a walnut filling. And chkmeruli -- chicken slow baked in an oven and then simmered in garlic and milk.
BOURDAIN: Mmm, that's good.
PAUL: And Georgians will tell you, there's no alcoholics in Georgia.
BOURDAIN: No alcoholics. Right. Do you believe that?
PAUL: Absolutely not.
BOURDAIN: How do I get out of drinking? How do I avoid chugging Cha- Cha?
PAUL: Say you have a heart condition.
BOURDAIN: A heart condition?
BOURDAIN: Nothing short of that will help?
[21:23:52] BOURDAIN: There it is, perched on a hilltop overlooking the capital, like the liar of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the bond arch villain. Helipad, check. Private zoo, check. A big, shimmering glass box owned by Georgia's richest man, Bidzina Ivanishvili. Known variously as "the good oligarch," and as the mysterious guiding hand behind, well, everything. Seldom seen in public, Ivanishvili, after making billions in Russia, went into politics in his homeland, creating the Georgia dream party and ultimately becoming prime minister in 2012. Not everybody is on board, however.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The demonstration ended several minutes ago. Concrete demands of the participants were the Georgian government has to stop.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Russian gas is expensive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Russian gas is not --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gazprom is Putin's weapon of blackmail.
BOURDAIN: Known as the Angry Bird, Tamara Chergoleishvili and her Pro-western decidedly anti-Russian defend liberty coalition, are in vocal opposition. Recently, a move by the ruling party to sign a deal with Russia's Gazprom for all Georgia's oil needs, has caused dissention. We meet at Sofia Melnikovas -- a much-loved bistro for the most loved, perhaps most iconic Georgian dish, Khinkali. I understand that Georgia is not releasing, but looking around, compared to 2008, life looks good. There's money in the streets, shiny new cars.
TAMARA CHERGOLEISHVILI, GEORGIAN POLITICIAN: No, well, the thing is that, yes, things have changed. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Georgia was the country that suffered the most among the former Soviet Republic's economically. And our economy totally collapsed, corruption, like, became like just the normal way of living.
BOURDAIN: Truly a pretty miraculous transformation, unlike --
CHERGOLEISHVILI: Yes, well.
CHERGOLEISHVILI: It happened because, like, people wanted it, I mean, and there was this demand. That's why revolution took place.
BOURDAIN: Oh man, look at that. Wow, that looks sensational.
BOURDAIN: Big, fat, juicy soup dumplings filled with spicy cumin- jacked minced beef in a hot, rich, potentially scalding broth.
CHERGOLEISHVILI: You have never tried that?
BOURDAIN: I have never. No, I'm new to this country.
CHERGOLEISHVILI: According to tradition --
CHERGOLEISHVILI: You're eating it with fingers. BOURDAIN: OK.
CHERGOLEISHVILI: That's the whole thing.
BOURDAIN: Mm, so good. Oh wow, these are terrific.
CHERGOLEISHVILI: I mean, this not something very sophisticated to eat.
BOURDAIN: Mm, who cares? This is a very religious country -- people identify themselves closely with Christianity. Family based.
BOURDAIN: And there seems to be a point beyond which the population will not go and to come around to comrade Putin, um, he seems to understand this very, very well.
CHERGOLEISHVILI: The way Putin operations is that, like, first Putin emanates strength. I mean, he's a bad guy. I mean, there's a consensus.
CHERGOLEISHVILI: Like 80 percent of Georgians, like, believe that Putin is a very bad guy and Russians as well.
BOURDAIN: Right, but he's on the winning side.
CHERGOLEISHVILI: Yes, exactly so he's a winner, so they don't judge winners. They say, "Okay, we're bad, but West is worse."
BOURDAIN: But are they wrong?
CHERGOLEISHVILI: Of course they are wrong.
BOURDAIN: Wherever you find a traditional, religious, conservative society, you'll find a countervailing force. Georgians, as a rule, are compassionate about tradition, about the way things are supposed to be done.
But that doesn't mean that there aren't rebels -- people pushing hard against the status quo. Daring, creative souls like Chef Tekuna Gachechiladze. At Culinarium, she's taking to extremes the notion that Georgian food is in fact the fusion of all the past influences of the many forces who made their way, and forced their way, through the tiny country. She's focused on the next generation.
[21:28:40] BOURDAIN: Something that was said to me early on, what I need to know about Georgia is, don't speak badly of, uh, religion and don't mess with the food.
TEKUNA GACHECHILADZE, CHEF: For me, without innovation, tradition will die. Because we can't -- we can't eat the same dishes what we used to eat in the beginning of the century because then, people did go for the hunt for two weeks.
GACHECHILADZE: Now, we're sitting in front of computer and we can't take so much fat. It needs some lighter version of it and I'm trying to modernize Georgia cookings. I think you're hungry, so now I have to go cook.
This is the cream soup with the caramelized onions and then salt.
BOURDAIN: Really good.
GACHECHILADZE: It's really good for a hang-over.
BOURDAIN: Oh, that's good because I have a hangover.
GACHECHILADZE: Uh, eat some more soup.
BOURDAIN: I could eat this all day.
GACHECHILADZE: And then we're going to drink Cha-Cha and you don't have a hangover at all.
BOURDAIN: On my way to a new one.
GACHECHILADZE: This is Georgia, you know, you have a hangover.
BOURDAIN: I'm learning every day.
TEKUNA: You cure yourself every day and then the next day, you still have a hangover and then you cure yourself.
BOURDAIN: Oh my God, I mean, having a --
GACHECHILADZE: I think we have to do one shot. It's going to help you and it's going to help me. And some wild trout tartare.
BOURDAIN: This is delicious. So, when you first started departing from the classics, what was the reaction from people?
GACHECHILADZE: What do you think? It was big, like, um, controversial. Even my grandmother, she's like when I make her try this new thing, she's like, "Why? Why do you have to do this?" And this is the very popular dish, chakapuli and then from lacos chakapuli, I'm trying to make people eat mussels.
GACHECHILADZE: Because the mussel is not very popular.
BOURDAIN: They're beautiful mussels, too.
GACHECHILADZE: Yes, we have very good mussels. But we need now and one more shot, so.
BOURDAIN: Are there some Georgian dishes that should never change?
GACHECHILADZE: I always feeling very strongly to preserving the regional dishes. It's good to have this original version --
GACHECHILADZE: -- but I'm giving the other option to try something new. In my vision, it's always to have a choice.
BOURDAIN: Look, it's a beautiful city. It's in the countryside. It's fantastic. People are nice and the food is really extraordinary, really, really something special.
GACHECHILADZE: It is, it is.
BOURDAIN: The drinking, however, is a problem.
[21:35:19] BOURDAIN: Tbilisi is one thing -- an increasingly modern city. Smart cafes, boutique hotels, shops, galleries, the inevitable spoor of hipsters. But outside the city, it's not so different than it always was. Agrarian, traditional, things done the way they've always been done. The way it's believed they should be done, until you reach the bizarre world along the border. Only 90 kilometers northwest from Tbilisi in villages like one, Khurvaleti, where tiny Georgia's predicament, comes clearly and brutally into focus.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
Over there, the Russian-controlled breakaway region, formally Georgian of South Ossetia.
The Russians took it in a five-day war in 2008. It's Russia now. This side of the wire is, at this precise moment anyway, Georgia, but who knows? The border has been known to inch forward unpredictably. Often in the dead of night to the point that families have gone to sleep in Georgia and woken to find themselves living in Russia, swallowed up overnight. Before 2008, Khurvaleti was home to more than 60 families. Today, just nine families are left hanging on.
DIMA BIT-SULEIMAN, GEORGIAN JOURNALIST: So that cow is in South Ossetia, both of them. There was story actually on that, an old lady basically woke up and her cow appeared to be on the other side of the fence because they did it during tonight.
BIT-SULEIMAN: And so she would walk up every morning and would milk cows through the fence to get her milk. It can't be that bad, yes.
BOURDAIN: Journalist and fixer, Dima Bit-Suleiman covered the war here seven years ago and continues to report from the region.
BIT-SULEIMAN: So like that house.
BOURDAIN: They had the misfortune to go to sleep in Georgia and wake up in Russia.
BIT-SULEIMAN: Exactly. But look at this. This is where the Russians sit and that is the base. Probably a communication base, but they're probably now watching us and the sign says, "Attention, state border," so that's something that appeared recently.
BOURDAIN: Thoughtfully, in English.
BIT-SULEIMAN: The main problem to me is that we're like a couple kilometers away from the highway. Moving this border and blocking this highway would stop all the activity in the country basically. So, right now, the Caspian oil and gas goes through Georgia, and that's the only route, except Russia and bypassing Russia.
BOURDAIN: There's an implied threat, you know?
BIT-SULEIMAN: That's the main thing.
BOURDAIN: It's saying, "If I can do this, I can certainly go all the way right to highway at which point" --
BIT-SULEIMAN: Basically, there's a pipeline just here.
BOURDAIN: So, this is really a hand around your throat.
BIT-SULEIMAN: Absolutely, every day. That's why every 50 meters or even meter, which may be not that important for the whole country, like shorthand economic point of view. It doesn't matter, right? But, in terms of political threat, every meter is another step toward catastrophe.
BOURDAIN: We're here for a supra at the home of Ushangi (ph) and Makvala Kokashvili. A supra is like a feast, super traditional. A pig is dispatched and broken into constituent parts. The neighbors pitch in, helping to make three different varieties of a traditional cheese-filled bread, known as khachapuri, variously stuffed here with potato, beet leaves and stewed cabbage.
DIMA: And there's one thing that we always do in Georgia. We eat fresh herbs always and this is homemade wine.
BOURDAIN: There is, I gather, a very formal structure to these toasts. DIMA: Quite. For the few, uh, few toasts at least, seven-ish I would
BOURDAIN: You sort of lose the plot after seven.
DIMA: No, no.
Seven is not a lot.
BOURDAIN: Here's how a typical supra works. It's more formal than it looks. Custom must be observed, certain rituals performed.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to say a toast for families.
[21:40:06] BOURDAIN: Proceedings are led by the Tamada, or toastmaster, often the head of the house. The big-cheese, the dude but always the guy with the best rhetorical skills and the guy best able to stay sober while all around him are, well, not. Because, there's a lot of drinking in a supra. It's required. In this case, our hosts have called upon Igor, their next-door neighbor.
BOURDAIN: After each toast, your glass of wine or Cha-Cha, God forbid, must, and I mean must, be drained completely and refilled to the rim.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must always remember and glorify our ancestry.
BOURDAIN: You're toasting some pretty heartfelt, serious shit here, so hang in there and show some respect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's remember them and drink to those who have passed away.
BOURDAIN: Which is tough because the drink receptacles can grow larger as the toasts progress. To like this horn for instance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A toast for peace.
BOURDAIN: Which is used because you can't, even if you wanted to, put it down anything less than empty because it will pour all the table. So, drink up! Then, there's a mug and so on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let us always see the peaceful united country. A toast for Georgia.
BOURDAIN: To Georgia. Then it's time for the food. Roast, stuffed goose. Wow, look at that. And shashlik -- grilled kebabs of pork with a sour plum sauce. There's also qorma, a slow-cooked stew of the pig's heart and liver with onions, bay leaves and parsley. It's good bread. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DIMA: If we have a choice, we prefer west to Russia because the future for our children is much better there.
BOURDAIN: But they're still here.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
DIMA: We're not afraid. They're here, but we sleep peacefully. Without -- without fear. And he says they can and will be here. We'll meet them here. It's been six years we couldn't go to the graves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a grown man, I'm not afraid of anything. And I never cry but that day six years when I could no longer visit my father's grave, I cried. A toast for our children.
My God give them a long life, and health. A toast for your child. My God raise her wealthy and to be as you wish.
BOURDAIN: Ugh, I don't think -- I don't think I can do this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When toasting little ones, you must drink the whole glass.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have to drink it all.
BOURDAIN: I'm working on it, I'll get there, I'll get there.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
[21:47:33] BOURDAIN: The wine region of Georgia is called Kakheti, a beautiful area East of Tbilisi made up of foothills and valleys below Caucasus Mountain. In a hilltop village of Signage, there's a well- known restaurant called Pheasants Tears. The chef is a local guy, Gia Rokashvili, who works with what's from the area. Nothing too fancy, but always soulful and delicious and always served with local wines.
KETI BOCHORISHVILI, DEPUTY MINISTER OF ECONOMY, GEORGIA: I like to show off my country. You know, I want to sometimes scream, "Look! This is my country. Come and visit." And maybe it's part of my culture, parts of my personality, yes, we are just proud of our country.
BOURDAIN: Now, you should know this about me and the people I work with -- we don't like working with officials. We avoid tourists boards, official advisors, government employees. We certainly don't hang out with ministers of the countries we are shooting in, who always, always have an agenda and always want to skew our perspective on our subject. But Keti Bochorishvili is an exception. She is the Deputy Mister of Economy. A remarkable woman, more remarkable for the fact that she is unique holdover from the previous administration. She goes on and on, never stopping in her efforts to convince the world that Georgia -- Georgia -- is the place to be. And if you spend any time with this ferociously smart woman and her friend, gallery owner Tamuna Gvaberidze, you will understand and forgive us all, all of us on the crew for becoming completely beguiled. I like the food already. Love the food.
BOCHORISHVILI: Okay, good. Food you like. I hope wine, you like, and then if you like skin, then that's the place.
TAMUNA GVABERIDZE, FRIEND OF KETI BOCHORISHVILI: And you have to dance also, Georgian dances.
BOURDAIN: Really? I'm a really, really appalling dancer. This is a problem for me.
GVABERIDZE: No, no, no you don't do that. You know you want to.
BOURDAIN: Now, I'm frightened.
GVABERIDZE: Two or three glasses of Cha-Cha and you're ready to dance.
BOURDAIN: Enough Cha-Cha, anything is possible.
BOCHORISHVILI: I'm going to toast, take the break, ah, let's toast for the -- I'm spontaneously thinking right now to achieve our goals and dreams.
BOURDAIN: To dreams. The ladies convinced us to make the 90-minute drive to this village and this restaurant and, well, I'm quite happy they did. By the time I've had some more of that delicious and lethal Cha-Cha, and many glasses of delicious Georgian wine, after boiled beets in a wild plum sauce, and freshly foraged mushrooms with chili pepper and mint and tarragon, baby lamb stewed in its own fat with cumin and cooked together with wild rice biryani style. And delicious, delicious Tonis Puri. Bread straight out of the outdoor tandoor-like clay oven. After all this, I am convinced. I am co- opted, I am recruited. Count me as a useful idiot, a witting agent of the Georgian Ministry of Tourism, for I may as well be.
BOCHORISHVILI: But, um, I have to underline also that Georgian people are very optimistic, very cheerful. They always see, you know, future in a very, and that drives the, you know, drives them.
BOURDAIN: Optimism. Not a lot of it in this world right now. I visit a lot of countries. People are unusually helpful and friendly here. Um, how should I put this? People are really good looking here.
It is -- it's sort of thing you notice.
GVABERIDZE: Do you know who you look like?
GVABERIDZE: The director, American. David Lynch.
BOURDAIN: I'm David Lynch, really? He has better hair.
GVABERIDZE: I'm so happy he says he likes Georgia, really.
BOURDAIN: Why would I not?
GVABERIDZE: You're becoming a Georgian. Be careful.
We are all humans and we all love each other so we can sit around a table and we can just love each other. And especially, with the help of wine, we can love more.
BOCHORISHVILI: You know, Georgians also like to drink for peace because peace was so important in our lives.
GVABERIDZE: I think we need to change the world.
BOURDAIN: To freedom.
BOCHORISHVILI: OK, so now it's your turn to say the toast.
BOURDAIN: To this extraordinary place that has managed against all odds to endure all these years against so many powerful forces. To two magnificent women.
BOCHORISHVILI: Thank you.
[21:56:02] BOURDAIN: In this nifty neighborhood, just up the hill from downtown Tbilisi, is where Giorgi Gelovani is hosting a dinner. The food's being prepared by Meriko Gubeadze (ph), the chef of the city's beloved Black Line Brasserie. And it's going to be epic.
GIORGI GELOVANI, MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS, GEORGIA: I hope you find this --
BOURDAIN: It's really good.
GELOVANI: Not too salty for you? Because we love salted cheese.
BOURDAIN: Yes, so do I.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's great for your hangover.
BOURDAIN: They say that about a lot of things here, I notice.
A variety of Georgian appetizers served pre-dinner, kind of like mezza. Spinach with walnuts and wild capers, pickled carrots, cheese curds with roasted hazelnuts and mint, roasted eggplant seasoned with coriander. This thing, this thing is amazing. Kharsho, a stewed chicken cooked slow with ajika chili sauce, onions and an oft-used Georgian spices -- marigold flower powder and blue fenugreek. So a lot of what we've been talking about since we got here, is, will
Georgia continue to look west or will it, as the Russians would prefer, look to the East?
GELOVANI: It's not like the last 200 years or something. It's the -- throughout the existence of Georgia, even though we were surrounded and our immediate neighbors were Turkish, Persian, Arab, or whomever else, or Russian, okay. The -- so the bias has always been towards, with Europe rather than with the East. We believe that we are a part of that culture. However, distant we might have actually been.
BOURDAIN: By regional standards, people don't lower their voices here when they give you their opinion, more or less. Okay, it is as --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We never did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honestly speaking, I think we've done better than, than many of the Soviet Republics.
BOURDAIN: So, what will it be like in ten years? I mean, are you optimistic?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm always optimistic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mildly optimistic.
BOURDAIN: Not so optimistic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not so, yes. If -- I would say, if Georgia is still independent, I'm very optimistic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right the next one is --
GELOVANI: And the next one is supposed to be for the children, right? Come on!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or the life.
GELOVANI: Or life, yes.
BOURDAIN: To dreamers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dreamers.
(SINGING IN GEORGIAN)
BOURDAIN: Polyphonic songs are pure Georgia. Eerily reminiscent, though, of mariachi music. They're about pre-Christian things -- things that have always been here since the beginning like wind and forests and forest spirits and lost love. Hauntingly beautiful and otherworldly -- kind of like Georgia.
(SINGING IN GEORGIAN)