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Annabelle Chapman

Eastern Notebook: Khinkalis & Georgian-Russian Ballads

This autumn has already seen elections in Belarus, Georgia and Ukraine. Meanwhile, this column will continue to look at the region beyond the headlines. Eastern Notebook juxtaposes Culture with culture, and brings together reflections from inside and outside the region.

Don’t say goodbye. In Kyiv this month, I went to see anthology of short films “Ukraine Goodbye” (2012) at the cinema. It is part of a wider project for new Ukrainian cinema, and the theme was originally emigration.  “Ukraine Goodbye” brings together six of the best. Their portrayal of contemporary Ukraine is gloomy – but always interesting and with a touch of humour.  You can read my review in the journal New Eastern Europe.

EVS Rustavi logo, source:

Inside the khinkali kitchen. Does Georgia have the best food in the world? From what I’ve tried outside Georgia, I can say it’s delightful. One speciality is khinkali (ხინკალი, in Georgian), opulent dumplings filled with meat (or special sulguni cheese, etc) . From these photos, it looks like the European Voluntary Service (EVS) team in Rustavi, southeast Georgia, had fun preparing khinkali! The pictures show the cooking steps quite well, and there is a brief recipe at the end. For more Georgian food, visit Magdalena Swoboda’s Georgia blog for Eastbook (in Polish, but the pictures speak for themselves).

Kikabidze sings on. I fell upon this song by stellar Georgian singer and actor Vakhtang Kikabidze. The words and music were written by Soviet-era poet Bulat Okudzhava (the video has Russian lyrics underneath). Though Kikabidze is also celebrated in Russia, he got angry about the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia and cancelled his concert at the Kremlin. Now seventy-four, Kikabidze is perhaps best-known for his role in Soviet comedy “Mimino” (1977), about the chance friendship between a Georgian pilot and an Armenian driver who meet in Moscow. He sings the theme song, too. You can watch the whole film online (with English subtitles)!

Feature photo: Georgian specialities, by Magdalena Swoboda | Facebook gallery

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Journalist focusing on Eastern Europe. Her articles have been published in the journal New Eastern Europe. She has a degree from Oxford University and a weakness for languages (most recently Georgian). At Eastbook, she writes a weekly column, Eastern Notebook.

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