In the early spring of 2017, I found myself alone in Tbilisi Georgia.
I had already been there for over 2 months, and I had just moved to a new AirBnB apartment in another part of town. The new area was Abanotubani, the Old Town quarter, with the sulphur baths in the centre of the city.
I was working on my online teaching and writing all day, and didn't have much time for socialising.
The thing that I really liked about this new apartment, apart from the fact that it was the centre of the Old Town, was that I lived right above a traditional style bakery. The baker, George, made Georgian bread, puri, using a traditional well style oven.
I was buying fresh bread from him every day, and we started to chat more and more. He couldn't speak any English, and I couldn't speak any Georgian. But somehow we managed to communicate in Russian, even though neither of us spoke that language very well either.
After a few weeks, George and I became good friends. Actually, he was my best friend in Georgia.
One day, I asked him if I could watch him make bread because the way they do it is so interesting.
First, he mixed the dough in a big bucket. He poured in huge sacks of flour, and buckets full of water collected from the spring just outside.
Then he shaped it using a mould. All of the puri are more or less identical in shape and size.
When the puri was ready, he stuck it on to the brick wall on the inside of the well-shaped oven.
The puri are quite thin, so they only need around 10 minutes to bake. We waited while entertaining ourselves with shots of chacha and more bad Russian. Then when the puri was ready, he pulled it off the inside of the oven using a hook and offered it straight to me.
The bread was piping hot, but I wanted to eat it straight away because it smelled so good. It was crunchy and delicious, and it's one of the things that I really miss about Georgia.
Bread, and my friend George.
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