When I was living back in the States. I had an urge to make the world’s best macaroni and cheese. I don’t know when I started liking it, but I know that hasn’t always been the case. I distinctly remember a time when I would not put cheese in my mouth. But thankfully one day, my taste buds evolved to appreciate the god inspired dish known as macaroni and cheese. It was probably my Grandma’s mac and cheese. We used to go there every Thanksgiving when I was young. I imagine some got mixed on my plate accidentally with the ham or potato salad. However it happened, I was hooked.
I ate it pretty much anywhere it was served. My mom’s, aunt’s, other grandma’s, etc. I even started to order it in restaurants instead of the dominant goto- French fries. That’s when you know you are addicted.
A little over a year ago, I think, I decided to stop waiting for special occasions to make and eat the stuff. I have a hella skill set in the kitchen. Cooking is something I do VERY well, so why not extend it to mac and cheese. So I set out to methodically make the best macaroni and cheese ever. I researched other recipes, I made several different variations simultaneously to get a good accurate taste test. I took some ideas from here, added an ingredient or two of my own there. But finally- I reached nirvana. I created a recipe for the holy grail of Macaroni and Cheese.
I have developed a great community here in Ozurgeti of English speakers. In testament to that, we are going to celebrate the grand American tradition of Thanksgiving (there will be some Brits and Aussies there… maybe a South African, but still). Now although today is the real Turkeyday, we all had school, and couldn’t rally and mobilize in time to get together. So our Thanksgiving will be tomorrow. We decided to all pitch in for a Turkey (Brooke is chopping the head off the turkey as we speak). We are also each preparing a dish to bring to an English speaker who rents a house here in Ozurgeti. We are all super excited.
One of the deepest cutting lessons I am learning in Georgia is you don’t realize the importance of traditions and the ease of gathering with loved ones until it’s no longer an easy option.
So guess what I’m bringing? Macaroni and Cheese… OBVI!
I already talked to the host grandmother about using her oven (and assisting if need). I pre scouted for ingredients in the bazaar and supermarkets. Okay. This is where things get tricky. They don’t have EVERYTHING in their stores. Or some things are a lot more expensive than back in the States. For example, a can of Pringles (even the Russian knock off) is five lari. I don’t remember how much I paid for potato chips in the States, but if they were 5 bucks… maybe that’s another eye opener of why I needed to come here. A major obstacle I still need to navigate is the cheese, which is, well let’s face it, a key component in the dish. They have cheese here. But I’ve only witnessed four varietals. None of which are Cheddar or anywhere close to cheddar. But hope is not lost. Yesterday I spied a new western looking super market- think “Trader Joes” of Georgia. So hopefully they can hook me up. Otherwise, the world’s best Mac and Cheese, will be… different.
Happy Thanksgiving to those back in the States.
I am thankful for friends and family who support me because they know and see my heart when I don’t always fully see it clearly for myself.
I am thankful for the diversity of life and culture that this big rock we live on affords us to witness and interact with if we so chose to do so.
I am thankful for the adventurous people I randomly come into contact with who continue to inspire me with their humility, altruism and love.
I am thankful for the peacemakers.
I am thankful for the creative souls who inspire us with their crafts.
And finally, I am thankful to all those people who have added to my life, be it little tidbits or whole sections, whether it was a word of hope and inspiration or by providing an oasis of refuge to rest from the continuously never-ending spinning of the world. Whether you showed me mercy or tough love. Whether you loved me literally or figuratively. You are and will forever be in my heart. Thank You.
P.S. Brooke just texted me and said, “I mortally wounded it. Thomas had to finish it off. It was awesome. There is video.”