In the last year the words “local” and “authentic” became really viral among any kind of travelers. Avoiding tourist traps, finding own paths and making friends with the natives is getting as normal as booking all-inclusive tours 7-10 years ago. Buying magnets or t-shirts with “I <3 this and that place” printed on them can be also considered at least outdated, if not a poor taste. And if you travel to Georgia, what can you bring to your loved ones, especially in holiday season (we are writing this on the 23rd of December)? What can you buy for yourself – something better than above mentioned magnets? If you know Georgia a little bit, you might be surprised that we are not convincing you to buy wine and churchkhela (delicious natural sweet made of grape juice and walnuts)… Well, it is always good, as Georgia is a wine producing paradise, but at the same time such kind of souvenir is way too obvious. You could do it without our help. We would draw your attention to some local products, which are really authentic (hope you noticed the efforts to use both trendy words in one sentence), some truly Georgian things produced here for centuries. You can get inspired here and the discover the details (prices and names of the galleries) in the original blogger's post here. So here are some pieces of advice from a Tbilisi-based Ukrainian:
1. Ornamented tablecloth
My recent affection, this typical Georgian thing is a good present for a person who likes to combine ethnic elements in his/her home. The thematic patterns and variety of colours (though the most classical one is blue and white) look simple and beautiful. To me as a huge fan of Georgian culture it is also a part of preservation and spreading of local motifs and ornaments, so as I will have my own home, I gonna buy such a tablecloth for myself as well.
2. Minankari enamel
Another cool piece of Georgian handcraft, minankari jewelry is made in accordance with an old technology, which is preserved till now – though, sometimes a bit modified. Basically the enamel is put on silver, gold or any other kind of metal, then it is baked, and then the procedure is repeated once again. In short – it is double layer of enamel baked twice. Always handmade, that’s why not cheap. .
3. Jam and tea
I am sure you have some kind of local jam in your country as well. But my big love for local jams (which makes me exercise a lot) forces me to say it loud: walnut, white cherry, feijoa and pine cone jam is a must try and maybe a must take some for your family and friends. Georgian tea from Western part of country is good as well.
4. Woolen scarves and handmade accessories
Again, I have such a scarf too, it is warm and beautiful. Besides my “supporting local production”-idea, I just really like wearing bright things you can buy just here and nowhere else. The Georgian handcraft also includes a huge variety of bags and accessories. Here I post some pictures of them, so that you can imagine… Small pieces of jewelry, painted stones which are kind of small souvenir I really like: it’s not a magnet, a plate or a cup with “I HEART SAQARTVELO”, and it is not a huge expensive painting which is not easy to transport. It is a small handmade painting on a tangible piece of Georgia!
Those you can buy at the market or in the supermarket are delicious, but you can’t always carry them with you – it all depends on package and carrier rules, and many other things… And also the classic sulguni or Imeretian cheeses are just mainstream. If you happen to travel to Javakheti region, please notice that in Poka monastery near Paravani lake the nuns prepare awesome kinds of cheeses (and also chocolate, oils and jams - that goes to the p.3)). Dozens of them! And also in Tusheti or in the lower parts of Kakheti you might find some rare sorts of cheese (guda and dambali are the most famous ones).That’s my version of a good present package from Georgia. Of course I could also mention my favorite spices - Svan salt and ajika, but I think you will love them anyways ;)