Saturday, November 6, 2010

Our culinary heritage

Faithful reader Ara responded in his usual, thoughtful manner to our recent item on Armenia's effort to identify and preserve the nation's original cuisine. 

He noted that time is running out for those of us in The West to survey our elders -- but, on an encouraging note, he pointed to a series of books published by Hamazkayin (The Armenian Educational and Cultural Society) some years back that captured many recipes unique to various regions and cities. 

We've heard about these books before, but there's no use for us in tracking them down because we don't read Armenian.

This highlights another challenge. Many of us and our children don't have the Armenian language skills to do such research, or even properly sort through the names of dishes and ingredients for clues to their origin.

It would be a valuable and generous undertaking for anyone who does have such skills to translate the resources that do exist so the rest of us can make use of them.

As for surveying our elders, we know many of you have already done that. Maybe not in a formal way, but perhaps you've at least scratched out a recipe or two that your mother or grandmother (or grandfather) passed down.

Even if it sounds so much like other recipes on books or on this Web site, it may differ in some small but significant way that tells us something about the food of their village.

Why not send it to us? 

Better yet, did you make a video?  We know some of you have done just that. Our daughter's gunkahayr, Dr. Aram Aslanian, the distinguished psychologist, captured hours of video of his maternal grandmother in the kitchen. He keeps promising to share it, but...he's busy.

We're all busy, but let's make an effort before any of this is lost. We're more than happy to act as a repository or as go-betweens or whatever anyone needs. We'll post videos for the world the see and study, or tell you how to post them yourselves. 

We can't offer much except our limited knowledge and good intentions. If you can offer the same, maybe we can all accomplish something important together.

2 comments:

  1. I would love to participate in this kind of project, Robyn! If people only have the recipe in Armenian, I can translate into English (from a scanned or faxed copy). I am sure I am not the only one, either.

    Wouldn't it be great, at the end of all this, to be able to publish an authoritative cookbook of Armenian cuisine, with recipes broken down by historic region, an index of variants, etc.? The Armenian version of the Larousse Gastronomique, if you wish.

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  2. It would be a massive undertaking, well-worth the effort for future generations!

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