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5 O'Clock Somewhere: Each Morning Should Start with a Cup of Mulberry Vodka

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 13/10/2015 Roads & Kingdoms

This post is from Roads & Kingdoms' Five O'Clock Somewhere series: daily dispatches at cocktail hour from around the world. Find more food and travel storytelling at Roads & Kingdoms.
By Teodoras Grigaliƫnas
Tutovka in Goris
I was standing beside a gas station on the edge of Goris, an Armenian city in a valley of the Lesser Caucasus mountain range, observing the cars rushing past. Suddenly, one came to a screeching stop beside me. It was a dark green UAZ, the Soviet equivalent of an off-road Jeep. The doors busted open and a man gestured for me to hop in the back. He was yelled at by another passenger for inviting me to join the ride. It took me a few seconds to reconcile with the two hot-tempered Armenians, and then I got inside.
"We are farmers. You come with us, have a dinner, and then you can go back on your trip," said the man in the back.
I agreed.
Soon enough the road was blocked by sheep herded by Caucasian shepherds. We got out of the car and started ascending the mountain to where our dinner would be located. Lush vineyards started opening up, and I followed the others to a table, which we surrounded. After sitting down and breaking bread, drinking began.
tutovka © Provided by The Huffington Post tutovka
Shots of tutovka, a 65 percent alcohol mulberry vodka, started making the rounds. In Armenian tradition, each shot must be preceded by a sincere, open-hearted toast. And each should be succeeded by zakuska, food meant to help the gulp go down softer: pickles, bread, cheese, figs or grapes.
In Armenia, it is a custom to drink homemade tutovka or other strong alcohols along with dinners. The more you eat, the more you drink, and the food is abundant.
And so we drank, and ate, and drank. Toast after toast, drink after drink, snack after snack. The host, an old man, was nice enough to tell me that I should spend the night. I was not getting out of this drinking circle, and it spun yet faster and faster.
I remembered what an Armenian guide of a museum in Nagorno-Karabakh had told me: "Our grandfathers know, that if you want to live to a 100 years of age, each morning should be started with a cup of tutovka." Apparently, it is very good for the stomach. And apparently, this medicine can make you feel a wee bit wobbly, too.
You can explore more dispatches from the Five O'Clock Somewhere series here and see Roads & Kingdom's Breakfast series here.

5 OCLOCK SCREENSHOT © Roads & Kingdoms 5 OCLOCK SCREENSHOT

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