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Svan Song

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The following is an excerpt from Sean Williams | December 19, 2016 | Slate.com |

Each week, Roads & Kingdoms and Slate publish a new dispatch from around the globe. For more foreign correspondence mixed with food, war, travel, and photography, visit its online magazine or follow @roadskingdoms on Twitter.

KICHKULDASH, GEORGIA—It’s a bright, hot day in the nearly abandoned village of Kichkuldash, and its last remaining citizens are making lunch. Maro, a stout, stern-faced woman in her 60s, is preparing great piles of cheese beside a wood-fire oven.

Valeri, her husband, is already on the booze. He’s stirring up a 34-gallon barrel of chacha, a home-brewed brandy, somewhere around 75 percent alcohol by volume. His nose is already turning a traffic-light red. Outside on the porch, a bear skin hangs drying. Valeri hunted it, illegally, himself.

What does bear taste like, I ask him.

“A bit like mountain goat,” he replies, taking another swig.

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