Given Name: ჩურჩხელა (churchkhela)
Alias: pestil cevizli sucuk
Place(s) of Origin: Georgia (the one where many people can stay for nearly a year visa-free)
Place Consumed: Ankara, Turkey
Common Features: Grape must*, flour and nuts, and fruit juices wouldn’t hurt
Background: If I had seen this sweet snack during my short stay in Tbilisi, Georgia, it would have been tried first in its homeland. Then again, considering that the Turkish meaning is “fruit leather walnut sausage ,” I’d expect it to be a better candidate on t-shirts in China than on menus near the Black Sea. That said, an English-speaking candy store owner in Ankara noted that it was worth a try.
Verdict: It was one of those foods that tasted just like it looked. Walnuts on the inside imparted a slightly bitter, nutty flavor, while the grape-overload exterior was a bit chewy though not incredibly sweet. Apparently, the walnuts are stuck onto a string, dipped in grape flotsam and dried into this dubious sausage-form. If you like milk, because it’s a relatively dense dessert, get a gallon or two.
*Must= Skins, stems and seeds of freshly pressed juice. Grapes are the usual suspects.