Supras

A supra is a traditional Kartuli party, often in honor of a birthday, and for other special events as well — perhaps holidays and other things; I’m not sure yet. There are two peculiarities of supras which distinguish then from other kinds of dinner parties: veryone sits at one long table, and at the head of the table is the tamada, or toastmaster, who’s job it is to punctuate the feast with a nearly endless stream of toasts, to which the participants, (especially the men) respond with “gamarjoes!” and by drinking wine, usually homemade. There is apparently a predetermined order to these toasts, which seems to vary in response to who the supra is in honor of. I’ve been to two, one for the birthday of a policewoman, and another for a neighbor, and at the former I had the great advantage of having one of the policemen practicing his English by roughly translating the theme of the toasts. There are toasts to the person in who’s honor the supra is held, their family, the country, the president, various supra guests; the policemen also toasted various superior officers: the district sherriff, the regional sherriff, the head of the ministry of internal affairs, the soldiers who fought in the war with Russia, and so on — at the toast for the highest police official in the country they all stood on their chairs and shouted GAMAR — JOES! three or four times, which was especially charming; and because I was there  (I think) when they toasted their president, they also toasted President Obama, because our countries are friends.

The other peculiarity of a supra is that whoever arranges it makes sure to put out more food than the people attending could possibly eat, and if a plate is nearly empty they will fill it, whether or not anyone indends to eat this food. The result is that each person has their own plate in front of them, on which is food that they actually intend to eat, and in the middle of the table there are perhaps dozens of dishes, which begin to be piled on top of one another. This is because the table starts out nearly full with things like bread, fish, fruit, vegetables, and curried eggplant, which are prepared ahead of time, and then a new dish is added every ten minutes or so after that; but the original dishes are never removed.

As an outsider supras are both delightful, because of the toasts and because the food is very good, and also awkward, because they are very long, and one is often unsure what exactly is being toasted — it is especially awkward when they toast you, because you have to respond, and are not quite sure what is appropriate; and then someone tries to translate, but only knows how to say things like “you are a good girl,” or “he says that he love you.”

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