The Gruzinian Satisfaction
Me and Tango

I know, you read the headline and want to correct me.

Sima, it’s 2018. There is no such place as Gruzia, it is Georgia. So, guys, this is actually the first question I ask Tango – the owner and master of the most attended Khachapuri place in Jerusalem.

Each time I visit the Machane Yehuda Market (or as we call it here, “the Shuk”), I have a hard time deciding what to eat. There are so many favourite places, with authentic food, that I become confused and anxious. But if I want to take no risk of being disappointed, I choose the Chachupria- Tango’s place.

Tango

When I meet Tango, I am surprised by the way he treats his staff. So different from what we used to see in many restaurants. You can immediately feel the family vibes and realize that Tango puts interpersonal relationships first.

So, I am afraid to be impolite – but I am too curious (and we are in Israel after all), “Are you Gruzinian or Georgian? what is the right terminology?” I ask.

Tango, probably used to discuss this topic replies with no hesitation- “Gruzinian of course. I came from Gruzia and became a Gruzinian Israeli. Served my duty in the military and am loyal to my country”. You can tell from the way he speaks that he doesn’t like the recent political changes, being devoted to the traditional way of seeing things.

The Chachupuria

While eating Khachapuri, which is essentially a Gruzinian (or Georgian if you would like) pastry, stuffed with the original great cheese, and other goodies like spinach and egg, I ask Tango how and when he started his culinary journey. I was prepared to hear the classic story of “I’ve watched my grandmother and mother at the kitchen, just fell in love with cooking and cooked since age 16 for the rest of my life.” But – here it comes- not at all.

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Click edit button to change this text. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

I know, you read the headline and want to correct me.

Sima, it’s 2018. There is no such place as Gruzia, it is Georgia. So, guys, this is actually the first question I ask Tango – the owner and master of the most attended Khachapuri place in Jerusalem.

Each time I visit the Machane Yehuda Market (or as we call it here, “the Shuk”), I have a hard time deciding what to eat. There are so many favourite places, with authentic food, that I become confused and anxious. But if I want to take no risk of being disappointed, I choose the Chachupria- Tango’s place.

Tango

When I meet Tango, I am surprised by the way he treats his staff. So different from what we used to see in many restaurants. You can immediately feel the family vibes and realize that Tango puts interpersonal relationships first.

So, I am afraid to be impolite – but I am too curious (and we are in Israel after all), “Are you Gruzinian or Georgian? what is the right terminology?” I ask.

Tango, probably used to discuss this topic replies with no hesitation- “Gruzinian of course. I came from Gruzia and became a Gruzinian Israeli. Served my duty in the military and am loyal to my country”. You can tell from the way he speaks that he doesn’t like the recent political changes, being devoted to the traditional way of seeing things.

The Chachupuria

While eating Khachapuri, which is essentially a Gruzinian (or Georgian if you would like) pastry, stuffed with the original great cheese, and other goodies like spinach and egg, I ask Tango how and when he started his culinary journey. I was prepared to hear the classic story of “I’ve watched my grandmother and mother at the kitchen, just fell in love with cooking and cooked since age 16 for the rest of my life.” But – here it comes- not at all.

In fact, Tango arrived in the kitchen because he saw no other choices. Hmmm… I’m a little disappointed. How are my readers going to respond? But, I realized, perhaps this story is about much more than food and traditions. This story is about striving for success, no matter what, even when nobody believes in you. When even your mother is scared of what seems to her as unstable and taking high risks. This is a story about modesty because Tango didn’t try to conquer the world in one shot. He just opened a really small place, with a very limited menu, and had the patience to bring it to perfection. Growing from zero customers to an endless line each Friday.

Happiness

“All you need is to be very concentrated on the concept, and not be all over the place. Do just one thing that you do really well. And one person to believe in you.” he tells. There are many lessons I could take from Tango. For example his simplicity, hospitality, openness. But above all, the lesson I’ve learned from him is to be happy with what you have. “I close the place early as opposed to the other places around (recently, the market became a busy night scene, with many restaurant, bars, and live music) because I am happy with what I have, and I want to keep my life in balance”.

Speaking of happiness- I ask Tango about the best moment he can remember from the place, expecting a story about a great chef or some politician that visited. But here, tango surprised me again: “When my grandmother called to order some Khachapuri from the restaurant. Each time was a peek moment for me”. Besides Khachapuri, Tango likes many more dishes, that one day he might add to the menu.  As we speak, Tango spoils me with all kinds of Khachapuri, homemade, and fresh out of the oven. I mean it- the food here is so fresh that you would have to wait 15-20 minutes to get your order, which is being prepared and baked in the oven right in front of you! Then you get your plate when the cheese is melted, and the egg is shining, you give it a bite, even though it’s so hot- and here, you are the happiest person in the world! This, I call perfection.
Visit there: Simtat ha-Shikma 5, Jerusalem

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