There’s a lot to love about bread, from chewy crusts and soft interiors to complex sourdough, to the comfort that only a bite of carb-filled goodness can bring to us. Bread has long been a staple food throughout a vast swath of the world, at one time serving as a central source of nutrition for those without much else, and even working as plates in days of yore.
Many cultures have built up hallowed traditions around bread, with France possibly being the one that comes to mind first. But for those among us who just can’t get enough, it’s better to skip the hexagon, and head to Central Asia.
Near the shores of the Black Sea in Georgia, there are women who are continuing to bake bread, just as their ancestors once did. They haven’t yet turned to the technology of stacked ovens, instead preferring to keep the bread baking methods of old in a stone oven. Though the many breads of Georgia are as varied as any boulangerie in Western Europe, some stand out more than others.
While even the least informed may have heard of khatchipuri, a bread most frequently filled with gooey melted cheese, it’s the lavash style flatbread that really makes an impact. Soft and flexible, like the flatbreads of Lebanon and Syria, it’s irregular bubbles speak to the ancient artistry at work within.
Should you ever get the chance to travel to Georgia, it’s absolutely worth seeking out the small villages that dot the country’s west, where you can not only experience this sublime bread, but watch as the women roll out each piece of dough before slapping it to the side of the clay oven, which is called a toné. When the bread is baked, the women deftly pull them out, without even so much as scorching their fingers.