The sun is shining as I arrive in Tbilisi, Georgia, looking forward to another chance to work here, and try and use the ingredients and equipment I’d brought with me to try out a few new baking ideas. I was feeling relieved as we landed, the whole area had been covered in mist from the mountains and it was not unusual for flights to be diverted to Armenia, the country next door.
The taxi driver looks behind him and says ‘Welcome back! Are you going to share more of your secrets this time?’
I think he’d asked me something similar the previous time, and I’d given a similar response. There are no secrets in cooking, I tell him, no secret recipe and no secret ingredients. Everything is possible. Just take a recipe and make it with what you have, and how you can. Enjoy it and share.
How does he know me, maybe I was in the cab once before during my last visit here? There are cows in the road ahead. I say ‘moo’ to warn him, and he swerves skilfully, while showing me my own blog on his phone. Now I realise I had mentioned it to him last time, but didn’t think he’d pay much attention to it. In a city with so many taxis about, who’d have thought I’d be picked up by the same driver again?
“Unfortunately” he continues, swerving past the obstacles, “since the last time you came to visit, my wife doesn’t allow me to eat too many cakes any more”. He laughs, knowing it doesn’t matter anyway. “Do you think I should try and lose a little weight before the summer?”
“You know, my daughter’s a great cook. Bakes all the time, too. Bakes day and night, in fact. It’s all delicious, believe me, just as good as you professionals. Maybe she can work a few days with you, you know, make a cake or something. You’ll love it. What do you think? But remember, she’s not going to give away her secrets, my friend, you’re just going to have to figure those out for yourself…”