One of things I like about living in Rego Park apart from its proximity to Flushing and wonderful old school spots like Knish Nosh is the preponderance of Uzbek culinary culture. There are at least 10 kosher kebab houses which fetishize the fatty flesh of lamb to varying degrees. Even the pizzerias here sell the meat pies known as samsa along with plov, a Central Asian spin on pilaf. At the delis find plenty of smoked fish, Eastern European charcuterie, salads, and Borjomi Mineral water. There are many other mineral waters on offer but over the past few years, I have grown fond of the fizzy water in the bluish bottle.
With its pronounced minerality and soft bubbles the Georgian mineral water ($1.49 for pint 7 oz. bottle) is one of my favorite things to drink. It also has purported health benefits, as expressed by the somewhat stilted slogan, “Gets rid of unnecessaries,” on the company web site. And in more forthright language elsewhere on the site, “Borjomi also improves functioning of intestines and supports slag excretion.”
The web site is replete with many other fascinating factoids, including that the first thing Cosmonaut Yuriy Gagarin asked for upon returning to Earth was a bottle of Borjomi. The most bizarre section of the site though is that devoted to Georgian culinary culture:
Local cuisine is real high art. Only Georgian cook knows how many efforts and fantasy should be applied to obtain an effect from usual green. What is fabulous jonjoli means, for example? To the view this is usual twigs and in point of fact this is delicacy which is collected only in single place (Lechkhuma) then marinated and could be kept not longer those two days. And faggot of vegetable herbs such as cilantro, estragon, basil, creeping, onion, and mint on the table seems to be simple ikebana in comparison with phalli (fine-cut mix of fresh and boiled green in nut souse).
One particular dish, kuchmachi, “hot course made of liver, heart, lung and tongue which served in oil with dressings,” is now on my offal watch list. Until I find it I’ll keep drinking Borjomi, to rid myself, of you know, unnecessaries.
Borjomi is a famous hangover remedy. The capital of Georgia, Tbilisi is also named after the water there which is delicious as any street fountain I sipped from in Rome. You have indeed stumbled upon a magical culture and cuisine. I can only tell you that the food you find in and around the five boroughs is not remotely authentic, and i am not being a stickler. It is often food from the Ukraine or Russia being presented as Georgian food (pelmini is not Georgian, for example – that is Siberian). You need to take a trip to the actual country, and you will come back a believer.