I’ve never been able to follow the traditional weight-loss-on-the-road advice, and honestly, who would want to? Eat a healthy breakfast. Don’t snack. Walk more. Take the stairs. Self-cater. No thank you. Trying all the food and wine and beer and coffee is one of the best parts of being on vacation. No consequences. No rules. Just carbs.
The national food of Georgia is khachapuri, a traditional cheese-filled bread dish eaten at any and all meals. Beer costs less than a dollar in Tbilisi. Moderation is clearly not the name of the game. I mean, look at it:
But don’t worry, fellow chocolate-and-wine-lovers! Do I have a solution for you. Abandon your healthy eating efforts and measly attempts at exercise and just take these two with you instead – I promise, you’ll never finish a meal again.
In their defense, our kids are really really good. They eat breakfast like champs. It’s perfect kid-meal material – eggs, fruit, bread, maybe some juice. At breakfast they’re well-rested, cheerful, and excited about the day.
Then there’s lunch. Lunch time might be a little trickier. We’re approaching prime nap hours. We’ve probably been out and about most of the morning. Our kids have been asked to admire things like churches and monuments, and avoid things like street cats and lollipops they’ve found under a bench. But usually there are a few French fries floating around, and perhaps some pasta, so we get it done.
Dinner though, dinner is a dark, chaotic time. It’s our Achilles heel, the Waterloo of meals. Battles are won and lost during dinner. Empires rise and fall. If we’ve inflicted ourselves on a restaurant, at least half of the people at the table and one member of the waitstaff cry during dinner. One of the four of us invariably gives up and just lies down on the floor. The check has never taken so long to arrive. Dinner is a frantic, tear-filled decent into smeared peanut butter and actual spilled milk. No one eats anything.
The problem with dinner is that it occurs at the very end of the day. It’s the last hurdle before bedtime. The day has been long, and our toddler does not have the patience to wait for food or eat with silverware. Staying in a hotel or guesthouse with a kitchenette makes eating dinner a little less of a spectacle, but that’s not always possible.
Most evenings in Georgia we resorted to what has become known as a “floor picnic.” Doesn’t that sound delicious? It’s room service, first of all. Eating a $12 bowl of penne inside a hotel room absolutely goes against all of our travel sensibilities. We were as disappointed in ourselves as you are, readers. But wait, it gets worse. Since there were four of us crammed inside one hotel room, all available surfaces had long been overtaken by piles of coats and hats and trucks and extra blankets. So we ate on the floor, because toddlers and babies and sometimes adults are too messy to eat on a bed.
I know you probably think that there’s nothing worse than a hotel room service floor picnic. But you’d be wrong; there is exactly ONE THING worse than that. It’s the inevitable result of desperately feeding your children the best parts of a $15 club sandwich and then immediately tucking them into bed. It’s seven o’clock, the lights are out, and if you make one single sound, the gremlins, who sleep through earthquakes and thunderstorms at home, will pop out of bed and immediately start asking for things like ice cream and orange juice and one more story. So you do the unthinkable. You carry the remnants of your mangled sandwich into the bathroom and eat sitting on the edge of the bathtub, crying softly into an $8 beer and promising yourself this will never, ever happen again. It will, though. Probably in about 24 hours.
We ate one successful dinner in a restaurant during our six days in Georgia, dining at Bread House, a glorious, old brick building known for perfecting traditional Georgian cuisine and baking all of their bread on site. We feasted on beef stew, grilled vegetables, trout, cheese khachapuri, and baskets on baskets of homemade bread. It was decadent, the weather perfect for al fresco dining.
There were two things that made that dinner possible, besides gorgeous weather. We started making or way to the restaurant at 4:45, not 6:00 when certain members of our family had already transformed into ravenous goblins. And last, but never least, we were joined by a good friend who firmly tipped the balance in favor of the adults. Outnumbering the children is key for a meal in which everyone eats, at least a little, sitting and/or standing at the table while trying to prevent juice cups from falling on the floor and kids from scampering under the table.
If you ever find yourself in Tbilisi, do yourself a favor and eat at Bread House. If you have kids with you, invite our friend Dave.