Mariam Ghazanchyan is from Armenia and enjoys preparing a chicken and bulgur pilaf. She's prepared it so many times that she could probably do it with her eyes closed. The cuisine is a popular choice for many households but is probably not quite as good as Ghazanchyan's. She makes everything by hand, including the wheat that she prepares with her husband; it takes around two weeks to make. Almost everyone from the surrounding community purchases their bulgur from the family.
[caption id="attachment_1134" align="alignnone" width="280"] Armenian bulgur pilaf[/caption]
Many people go to visit the family, including Seta Dakessian, who is a first generation, an Armenian-American restaurateur from Belmont. Dakessian is the proud owner of Seta's Café. She boasts a menu full of Armenian and Mediterranean dishes. She traveled to Armenia for her first visit in the hope of meeting typical families to see how they lead their lives on a daily basis. She was particularly interested in observing how locals create delicious dishes such as lavash using a tonir oven. She also hoped to discover some forgotten dishes and add them to her menu. Of course, I decided to tag along. A very energetic tour guide, Susan Klein, also accompanied us. She took us to visit the talented bulgur making-family.
We watched carefully as the family gathered around while her mother-in-law prepares the bulgur. Other members of the family were making gata, which resembled puff pastry. She rolled it into a log shape and indented it with zigzags before placing in into the oven.
Dakessian paid close attention and wrote down many keynotes, including the ingredients and measurements required. She had tasted gata just a few days earlier and instantly fell in love.
Klein also took us to visit other private homes and to restaurants that she knew well. We also toured the countryside to see Lake Sevan. We were lucky enough to meet the village women who cooked together.
Although few people could understand Dakessian because of her western Armenian accent, she was able to understand nearly everything of what they said. Dakessian discovered that the Armenian diaspora concerning the Middle East and Europe has ensured that there is still a strong connection between the homeland, people, cuisine, and culture. Regardless of where Armenia people are in the world, they stay united together. Armenian people have somewhat created communities to shield each other from the outside.
[caption id="attachment_1135" align="alignnone" width="443"] Armenian Lamajun[/caption]
During our travels, we also took time out to have lunch at famous lamajun shop named Gaidz, which is owned by a Syrian-Armenian repat Gaidzag Jabaghchourian. He moved away from Syria with his mum following the start of the war and opened his business in 2013. He encouraged his fellow Syrian friends to leave with him at the same time; he finds it difficult to witness the mass exodus now. Besides the traditional toppings like classic ground lamb and tomatoes, Gaidzag offers his customers a wide range of options. Of course, we had to try a few dozen of them. Afterwards, he and Dakessian had a long chat exchanging tips and ideas. Fortunately, Gaidzag has been able to achieve a lot, and thankfully Armenia gave him that opportunity to do so.