Seeing Russia: Russian Pizza

by Hanna Miller

Хачапури (pronounced “khachapuri”), aka “Georgian cheese bread,” aka “Russian pizza” is oven-baked real good bread; its most adored variant is the adjarski style, which is marked by a dip in the middle to cradle cheese and a runny, half baked egg. in Moscow, Russia, this meal-sized appetizer is the namesake of a popular restaurant, which has expanded into a chain with three locations in the Motherland’s capital. a favorite location that is quietly situated in the middle of a park and that is removed from the city center hustle bustle and that is minutes away from one of the city’s many train stations is the restaurant located at metro stop Kievskaya. the outdoor seating, buckets of pansies, and springtime giddy children on self-push scooters create a sweetly charming mixture of the Russian Soul, the ever-fangled West and supra, the country Georgia’s word for its cultural tradition of feast.

Georgian cheese bread owns the name of the chain because of its popularity among Georgian food patrons (although, it’s a close call between these cheese breads and the cuisine’s famed meat/mushroom/potato dumplings “khinkali”). the first category for ordering on the menu, in fact, is said bread, and its first proposed option is the aforementioned adjarski with stringy, salty cheese and a soft boiled egg. once delivered to the table, one must spear the bulbous yellow and stir, stir quickly and efficiently and mix until the cheese and egg slobber over the sides of the warm-like-sunshine, soft-petaled bread bowl. and then, tear apart, scoop, slide, eat.

the egg and cheese tastes are matched subtleties contrasted by their different textures. the cooked egg parts add clump to the cheese strings, and the pool of yolk sits atop baked, salty, creamy salguni cheese, preventing bread from turning soggy. comparing dipping mixture to the bread bowl in which it sits and is dipped, the pizza-like bread is a delight of its own. soft and warm and freckled with over-done spots and dots, the bread has a subtly sweet, daintily charred taste that texturally satisfies while begging one to keep going, chew, bite, glut.

khachapuri adjarski has been adored in Russia as a Georgian dish since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 (in fact, Georgian cuisine proves popular in all former Soviet republics), and this famous food is a mark of the country’s identity. when Georgia broke away to be internationally recognized as an independent country, it already had its own nationality founded in religion, linguistics and literature, and foods. well-known in Eastern Europe for its friendly people and political unrest, including a Civil War in the early ‘90s that created a lingering tension within, Georgia is located on the Black Sea with a warm climate. as with all former Soviet republics, and as with Mother Russia herself, Georgia is a mix of ancient tradition, centuries-assured identity, and post-USSR redevelopment of old and new national and world cultures founded in the confusion of modernity.

Hanna Miller

Hanna is from Mississippi and a Masters of Journalism student at the University of California at Berkeley. Her background is in Russian language + culture, sexual assault crisis response on University campuses, and generational divides between women in the American south. She has experience in documentary + TV production for public broadcasting, radio + web production for the arts and cultural exchange, and non-profit founding, organization, and development.