Spanish: the common denominator; Feijoada: the unifying element

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Written by Susanna Melo

What do Brazilians, Americans, Ukrainians, Russians, Azeris, Spanish, Germans, Colombians, Venezuelans, El Salvadorians, Peruvians, Chileans, Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, etc. all have in common? Yes! The response is, “Spanish!”

And most of the women from the countries listed above who speak Spanish in Tbilisi gathered around our dining room table to savor a Brazilian “feijoada,” which only a few had ever eaten before.

Needless to say, the black beans and “farinha de mandioca” (manioc flower) for the “farofa” were brought from Brazil, as we have not been able to find either in Georgia.  The only element truly missing was the “couve,” (collard greens) which we cannot get here, at all, but I substituted fresh, grated cabbage with garnishes of red pepper to add as a vegetable dish.

Copyright Keith Kenney, 2012

Making the “feijoada” here in Tbilisi was trying since the meat cuts are different and so is the packaging.  To top things off, you have to be creative when it comes to substituting one ingredient for another.  So, I ventured to buy different kinds of pork meat and sausages that I thought looked fitting to add to the beans.  Even the German bacon for the “farofa” looked different from what we are used to buying in the United States.

For dessert, I made a “pudim de leite condensado,” (flan) and prepared some “Romeo e Julietas”(slices of “goiabada” (guava paste) on slices of Georgian “sulguni” cheese).  A friend brought a delicious cake, another made home-baked pastries, and still another brought along a box of chocolate.  To top off the meal, my neighbor Sandra, from Paraguay/Peru, prepared some delicious black coffee.

All in all, the final result turned out close to what is expected and everyone seemed to enjoy it.  Best of all was the camaraderie amongst us Spanish-speaking folk.


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

3 Responses to Spanish: the common denominator; Feijoada: the unifying element

  1. I now kind of wish I spoke Spanish as that sounds wonderful

    • keithrkenney says:

      Susanna is a member of IWA (International Women’s Association). IWA has LOTS of groups. Susanna is a member of the Book Club, the Spanish-speaking group, and she chairs the Tbilieasy book-selling effort. I’m sure she’d help if you want to get involved with any of the above.

      • Hi there, I’m in the IWA myself. I don’t attend much as I work full-time and have two small children. However, I was having coffee with Mila Holloway the other day and I told her how much I loved your blog and I discovered that she’s met both you and Suzanna at the plays you described so well in your blog. Tbilisi is such a small world. Your blogs on Svaneti are great as my partner lived there for months and adored the place. He’d love us to all live there for a month this summer. Keep writing, I always enjoy your pieces.

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