Saturday, December 08, 2007


Making scalloped potatoes.
After many weeks confined to our sites, as we waited for the political situation here to calm down, my fellow Peace Corps volunteers and I were finally freed from captivity and traveled to a hotel complex on a lake near Tbilisi. The purpose was our safety and security conference, but I’d be lying if I said my primary focus was our Thanksgiving dinner.

The whole thing was a lot of fun. It gave us a chance to catch up with all our friends, as well as get to know the new group of volunteers a little better. We were able to use the hotel’s kitchen to cook Thanksgiving dinner in accordance with our American customs and traditions. That meant the turkeys were baked instead of boiled, the potatoes were garlic mashed and scalloped instead of fried, and the pumpkin wasn’t served boiled and salted.

The hotel staff looked on with a mixture of curiosity and horror as we cooked, scorched pans, started grease fires, and slopped food on the floor. However, I suspect most of the judgment was reserved for the many vegetarian dishes being made. Normally, vegetarians are guaranteed to ruin Thanksgiving with their tofurkeys and boiled sprouts and brown rice. Vegetarianism is less a product of principles and stems more from the inability to appreciate texture and flavor. However, our vegetarians managed to make tasty side dishes instead of bland crap so I should probably take back all the nasty things I said about them.

The lake by our hotel.
After many hours of work we sat down to a huge feast, complete with a turkey on every table. We ate and we ate and we ate and we were very thankful. Our director even kept the kitchen open late so we could come back at midnight for turkey sandwiches.

In addition to the traditional food, but we even pulled together a traditional touch football game. Peace Corps volunteers are just as athletic as you can probably imagine, and even washed up and out of shape ex-jocks like myself failed to prove any athletic prowess. However, the game came as a huge relief after almost a year of no physical activity whatsoever and despite all the dropped passes and bumbling it was competitive and fun. The rutted field was challenging, but one could screen a defensive back off the pine trees that blocked much of the field. I even managed to get a mild black eye when I crashed into another guy while tripping over someone. So I added that to a big scratch on my head incurred when I tripped over a chair when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom, as well as some weird lump on my hand that probably will have to be surgically removed in the coming months. I’m starting to look sort of scary

Nicholas tries to act indifferent to Lyssa and Paige dumping an entire container of cloves into the pumpkin pie filling.

When my girlfriend Paige wandered over with friends to watch, the other guys I was playing with even let me make an interception to impress her. It did not. But while I relived my high school glory, Paige chose to pass on hers and refused to offer up any cheerleading cheers despite everyone egging her on.

Thanksgiving provided the perfect opportunity to unveil the 2007 Dimi vintage and in a taste test against bottled Georgian and Spanish wine I felt strongly that mine was superior. So either my taste buds are deteriorating rapidly or else they’re influenced by my pride as an amateur vintner. Nobody else agreed that my wine was the best, but everyone thought it tasted pretty good.


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