Thursday, May 5, 2016

How to survive an Azeri feast

So I read an article on "How to survive a Georgian feast" over at BBC. It was about the Georgian supra, which the author said was only offered to the luckiest of visitors. I've never had a Georgian supra, but I've been invited to an Azeri sunnat celebration in Baku.

The first appetisers arrived around 7PM and dishes continued coming until 11PM such that plates and bowls were piled on top of each other on the table-- the picture on the banner is from our table. The dishes were quite similar to the ones described in the supra, but with Turkish-sounding names. Several kinds of olives, nuts, breads, dolmas, and shashliks; a few stews and salads; the best caviar I've had ever; plov; countless baklavas, pastries, and cakes. There was no pork, of course, but lots of alcohol ranging from red wines (for the ladies, according to my hosts) to several kinds of vodkas and brandies.

There were also a lot of toasts during the feast. I was asked to give several toasts at the table and, as the only foreigner in the room, was mandated to give a toast on the stage right before the celebrant's father. It was a privilege, of course, but I didn't really know what to say in honour of a boy who was was going to get circumcised the next day. There was a bit of ceremony then some dancing. They were teaching me the steps and hand movements, but by then I was piled high with food and alcohol that everything was a blur. I couldn't have danced any better if I were sober, so being sloshed was a good excuse for poor dancing.

I went back to the hotel around 2AM barely able to feel my face, but feeling very lucky to have partaken in an Azeri feast.

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