I tried Tqemali fruit. It’s a fruit. I thought it was made from plums, but the chutneylike sauce that I love so much is made from small, rosehip-shaped fruits that only grow here. It figures. They come in a green and maroon variety, have the consistency of fresh snow peas, and taste awesome and sour. The kids (Niko and Zela especially) scale the school’s tqemali tree at lunch to pick handfuls of them. I cannot imagine american kids going crazy for any fruit, unless crushed into dust and mixed with sugar.
Now that it’s warm outside, the kids run totally loose during the breaks. I mean, they always ran loose, but at least now they don’t do it in the hallways. Our school has a cracked pavement basketball court where they kids play soccer. The balls are faded and have bits of loose stitching poking out in places.
Inside the school, it feels much darker (though the color scheme’s still bright pink/white). The sun doesn’t penetrate the concrete walls. We got new windows recently, still complete with housewrap, but our doors are still knobless and cracked. Sometimes we have to use kindling as a wedge to keep them shut.
We’ve been doing a lot of testing this week. Lela picks, at random, a test from a book which bears no relationship to the studied matieral. Tests are then collected and scored, and then the scores are ignored in favor of the official 5-10 point scale, 5 being terrible and 10 being perfect. These scores are then recorded in each teacher’s official government gradebook, and mailed to Chokhatauri, where the student’s semester grade is determined, and then the books and grades are mailed back to Buknari. Regardless of the grade, or of their performance in class, students are advanced to the next year’s material and classes. It is either the setup to a Beckett play, or very stupid.
FOOD UPDATE: Pkhali is spinach paste with garlic and walnuts, then compressed into a round. Great. My third-grader Tamta invited me over to her house and we ate this, plus Tqemali liquer. (Not her. Though she did lure me over by asking “Ernesto, do you like cognac?”)
Pelamushi is a sort of hot grape jelly and the strangest thing I’ve ever eaten. They think you are crazy if you eat it on bread. It is the only thing not eaten on bread. It is eaten plain, with a spoon.
Mch’adi. Cornbread. Every day.
Iamze made salsa just like Dad used to make and called it tomato salad. She also made an awesome buttery pilaf and I drenched it with the salsa, and it was everything I ever wanted.