Atlas Obscura Day: Tbilisi
Imagine walking down a windy and uneven stone street in an ancient city. Dusk is just starting to draw it's lids down over the eyes of the city and you hear the soft and persistent "tisk tisk tisk" of a snare drum marching many inhabitants into a dreamscape. You follow the smartly dressed people ahead of you as they turn arm in arm into a courtyard surrounded on three sides by balconies and strung lights. Smoke fills the air from the massive grill in the corner - a feast is being prepared for friends and family.
The band plays some passionate blues while children dance on their mother's hips. Georgian wine is delivered in sweaty carafes and the men standing over the grill wipe their brows after fanning the coals. The music increases in volume and tempo. This is no dream. You've just found yourself celebrating Atlas Obscura Day as hosted in Tbilisi by Culinary Backstreets. This is one such celebration happening in 25 countries all over the world.
There are many fine traditions in Georgia, and apparently the courtyard lifestyle is one of them. In the past the courtyard was more of a gathering place. It was a green space for growing and washing and hanging your laundry, which meant that it was also a place to see and talk to your neighbors. A place of community and sharing. Atlas Obscura Day was no different, as we found ourselves at a reserved table put together by Culinary Backstreets. While the wine was good and the food was good (if not somewhat scarce) the conversation was excellent. Our table happened to be filled with Americans working at the embassy in Tbilisi and Istanbul. In one of those 'small world' experiences, they knew of each other and had similar postings around the world and bosses in common.
The discussion was worldly and ranged from entertaining children on a long flight to trying to get your car fixed in Moscow (bring your own parts!). Neither of which sound very fun or easy. Even though we are full time travelers, we found ourselves out traveled by the people at this table!
What is Atlas Obscura Day?
Atlas Obscura Day is a way to celebrate the hidden backstreets (culinary or otherwise) of your town or a city you are exploring for the first time. Atlas Obscura specializes in the random and weird and the...obscure. They write about the origins of the curious statue walk by daily, or about the ruined mansion covered in weeds in the middle of the woods. We've been fans for a long long time.
What is Culinary Backstreets?
Culinary Backstreets provides interesting culinary tours of cities all over the world, but what they really do is tell the story of a city and it's people through culinary traditions. Any casual reader of our site will know that this is exactly how we prefer to know a city - through the food.
Thanks to Culinary Backstreets for sponsoring this post and inviting us to participate in Atlas Obscura Day. It goes without saying, but all opinions remain our own.