Supra: Georgian Feast

Georgians love food, company, and celebrations. “Supra,” the Georgian type of feast, is a grand gastronomic celebration, made unique to us by the presence of a special person referred to as “tamada.” The role of the tamada is to lead the celebration and deliver toasts (which are very frequent).

At a supra, guests gather at a table laden with countless delicacies, but they are also invited to participate in a ritual that combines tradition, food, and friendship. On the Georgian feast table, you will find a wide range of local dishes, from cheesy khachapuri to juicy dumplings called khinkali. The center of the table is often dominated by grilled meat mtsvadi, complemented by an assortment of pickled vegetables, cheeses, and bread. Supra is not just food and celebration, it is a culinary journey through the best that Georgian cuisine has to offer. Wine is most commonly sipped, but the local brandy chacha should not be missed.

Tamada: the guide of the feast

Tamada statue
Tamada statue

The soul of a feast in Georgia is the “tamada,” who is responsible for maintaining the spirit and leading of the feast. The tamada is also responsible for the toasts. It’s not just a symbolic role, the tamada is the heart and soul of the feast and his toasts should be humorous, sentimental, philosophical, or deeply emotional.

A toast is an integral part of the evening and the main duty of the tamada. Toasts, often poetic and heartfelt, cover various topics, such as love, friendship, ancestors, and homeland. These toasts represent an interesting view of the values and character of the Georgian people. In addition, they offer an opportunity for expressing collective joy, shared sorrow, or common hopes. Supra can be not only festive but also mournful.

Supra is also evidence of a thousand-year-old Georgian culture. This ancient feast was proposed by UNESCO to be part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage, which only proves its intrinsic value.

In many places in Tbilisi and elsewhere, you can find replicas of the bronze statue of the “tamada”. The original figurine dates back to the 7th century BC. The tamada is depicted in a specific sitting position, holding a hollow horn from which to drink.

During my stay in Georgia, I had the opportunity to attend a supra twice. The first was a rather symbolic feast prepared for guests on a tour of Georgian wine. Here, I had the opportunity to try to drink wine to the bottom from a hollow buffalo horn after making a toast. The second time I happened upon an authentic supra with a charismatic tamada in one of the cellars in Kutaisi. If you stumble upon a supra, consider whether to actively join. At the feast, people often drink a lot and to the bottom. The next day can start with an unpleasant hangover. But experiencing a real supra was one of the strongest experiences from Georgia for me.

Cheers and drink responsibly!