There are two foods that I love: grapefruit and peanut butter. While I came to Georgia knowing I would have to temporarily say goodbye to grapefruit, I had hope that me and peanut butter would stay just as close as ever. In Tbilisi, they practically had aisles of the stuff so I was sure I’d be able to find it in any market in Georgia. I could not have been more wrong.
In Samtredia, I think I’ve checked every market. (All six of them). Not only does no store sell it, no shopkeeper has ever seemed to hear of it. Several shopkeepers have tried to sell me peanuts and butter but I had to explain that what I want usually comes pre-packaged in a jar.
Ironically enough, while most shops sell jars of Fluff and Nutella, peanut butter seems to be an exotic dish. I feel as if I am asking pretzel vendors in Manhattan if they happen to have black caviar in their cart.
My host-mom thus decided that we would make our own peanut butter from scratch. She wrote me a list of all the ingredients she thought we might need and sent me off to the market to pick up the supplies. On the list were peanuts, butter and a pudding-like milk.
Tip: don’t ask someone who’s never heard of peanut butter to help you decide what ingredients you may need.
My host-mom happens to be a great cook though so I figured whatever we’d end up creating would probably taste delicious. On our first attempt we put peanuts, butter and a spoonful of pudding milk in a blender. What resulted was fairly disgusting. It was a sweet butter that happened to have chunks of peanuts in it.
As my deda began a second attempt by hand-smashing peanuts and stirring them into butter, I explained to her that all I really wanted was ground peanuts that I could eat with bread. She instantly set up the meat grinder and began grinding the peanuts. What resulted was less a spread and more a hamburger-patty like peanut substance.
On attempt four, I decided to mix a little bit of the sweet, nutty butter from attempt one, with all the hamburger meat from attempt three. The result looked like chunky peanut butter but tasted like butter with peanuts. I found it pretty inedible, but my deda tried and loved it. She took a spoon to the concoction and asked me when my cookbook was coming out. (Earlier in the day, I introduced apples and honey to my host family. Needless to say, tepla da vashli (apples and honey) is the newest snack with tea sensation).
My peanut butter quest is not over! Tomorrow I’ll try grinding the peanuts with a spoonful of vegetable oil and also try grinding peanuts with a little honey. If all else fails, I’ll be eating peanut-patty ‘hamburgers’ with raspberry jam ‘ketchup’. Hmm, that actually doesn’t sound half bad.