Food, Georgia, Music

A Baba Kebab Theme Song

A culinary-musical connection between Georgia, Sardinia, and Pakistan

A Georgian musician studying abroad in Italy. A Pakistani Kebab shop on the island of Sardinia. A familiar home far away and a new place of respite just off the piazza. Tbilisi artist Rati Eradze recounts a story of a very special culinary-musical encounter. 

Somehow, the stars aligned and, as a student of Ilia University in Tbilisi, I was able to do an Erasmus exchange in Cagliari. From October 2023 to March 2024, I was there studying music technology, taking classes about Max/MSPMax/MSPa visual programming language for music and multimedia, on systems and technologies and how they integrate with music. It wasn’t my choice where they sent me for the program; I didn't choose this town situated on the seaside of Sardinia, an island in the South of Italy, but I hate the cold and the winter, so it was the perfect place to spend those months.

The culture there was also quite different from mainland Italy. I got the impression that they don’t consider themselves to be Italian at all; there was this understanding of colonialism and embrace of decolonization that felt familiar to me, coming from Georgia. We also both have these unique polyphonic singing traditions. I felt that somehow, the energy wasn’t that different—I just felt at home there, which was a surprise. 

But on arrival something funny happened, something my friends back home would destroy me for, given Italy's famous culinary culture: I started kind of “taking shelter” in a kebab place. I'm an avid kebab enthusiast; in Tbilisi, I'm really known for being a “kebab head.” So I almost immediately took solace in the nearest kebab place, Baba Kebab, five minutes from my house in a corner of Piazza Garibaldi. 

Rati Eradze at the famous Baba Kebab in Cagliari, Sardinia. Images provided by the author.

The moment I tried it, I knew it was distinctly good. Throughout my stay in Sardinia, I had a pizza here and there, but in the end I just kept going back for these kebabs. If I was hungover, maybe I’d go for a double kebab but generally just went with your standard wrap.

After about a month, the owner started to recognize me. We didn’t talk too much, but he always gave me a bit of extra meat, a kind of gesture of acknowledgment. And one day in December, he overheard my friend and I talking about our conservatory studies. “You guys are musicians?” he asked, and then we gave him our story. “Georgia is beautiful. I'm from Pakistan. We're all from Pakistan. This is a Pakistani doner kebab place.” That seemed to be some kind of a connection point, the fact that we were from the “East,” living in a “Western” place. So, without even asking me what kind of music I make, he said “Please make me a Baba Kebab theme song.” 

I immediately agreed. I didn’t ask any further questions. He wrote down his email on my receipt. I had a choice to imitate some of the Indian pop music I found on their Tiktok, but it felt like it would be an ironic caricature and chose not to go there, instead to do a funny, but uncompromising, version of the Baba Kebab theme song. He had made one request: “Say Piazza Garibaldi venti tre, our address. You have to say it, you have to say it at the end!” 

I made two versions, one was a kind of “Gen-Z” auto tuned piece, which I wasn’t sure if he would be happy with, so intentionally I made the second a bit more commercial, a happy guitar song. I recorded them, sent them to his email, and got his reply right away. To the first song he replied: “It’s good brother. It sounds good.” And to second one: “Yes, this is good, but make more songs than music.” It was a very concise email with very short feedback. 

Rati Eradze's demos for the Baba Kebab theme song

I’ve left Sardinia and it still appears he hasn’t used the tracks for anything. But for the remainder of my time there, I did notice that when I ordered he didn’t just add a bit more meat—he really stuffed the kebab until it was almost overflowing, a kind recognition of my musical labor. 

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Rati Eradze
An electronic music student from Tbilisi, Georgia. Delving into various musical territories, his practice mainly circles around exploring the conventional; the already well-known.