Friday, May 7, 2010

Day 9 - Armenia!

Okay, so I have to admit to taking a few "short cuts" for Armenia. This was an extraordinarily busy week, and I had very little time to plan and prepare an authentic Armenian meal. So, I did the next best thing.... I went to my favorite Middle Eastern grocery store in Watertown, Arax 585 Mt. Auburn Street:

Growing up in Cambridge, one of my best memories was when my Mother would go up Mount Auburn Street into Watertown to the Eastern Lahmajoun Bakery. My sister Anna, brother Clay and I always looked forward to these trips. She'd come home with a big white box (tied with bakery string), filled with warm Lahmajouns - you could smell the garlic first - always a good sign. Lahmajoun comes in many types. Unlike traditional pizza, it is meat based and contains other spices and herbs. There is also a vegetarian style to Lahmajoun that uses a spicy tomato base. Lahmajoun is mostly found in Cilicia, in those areas close to Syria and Lebanon.

Now, before I get into what I bought, you know I need to tell you a little about Armenia, starting with the location, location, location:

Regional influences include the Mediterranean, the Caucasus, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and to a certain extent also influences from the Balkans.[1] Armenian cuisine and traditions in turn have influenced the culinary traditions of nearby countries and cities such as Aleppo.[2] The preparation of meat, fish, and vegetable dishes in an Armenian kitchen requires stuffing, frothing, and pureeing.[3] Lamb, eggplant, yoghurt, and bread (lavash) are basic features of Armenian cuisine. Armenians use cracked wheat (burghul) in preference to the maize and rice popular among its Caucasian neighbors (Georgia and Azerbaijan).

So here's what we had: Spicy roasted vegetable Lamajouns and traditional ground beef (not hamburger) and garlic Lamajouns. We also had a blackeye pea salad, seasoned with lemon juice, lots of parsley, red, yellow and green peppers and olive oil. I tried another salad that I'd never had called Metch - bulghur wheat, tomato, scallion and scallion salad  (sort of like tabbouleh) that was very, very good. Lastly, we had Armenian String Cheese, spiced with Nigella seeds - really fun to pull apart to eat and much less salty than many of the other string cheeses I've had:


Lahmajouns, Metch and Black Eyed Pea Salad and String Cheese.

Although I regret that I didn't have time to make all these traditional dishes from scratch, I have to admit that I probably enjoyed the meal as much, if not more because every thing I ate was made in the store by the family who own and operate Arax - so I got to support a local business and totally chow on the real deal.

Next up - Australia!


Anonymous said...

lahmajoun is not traditional for armenia its a turkish food.. the vegetable version in fact might be armenian.

sadie said...

Interesting. I bought them from in a market run by 2 Armenian brothers, but since I think you may be writing from Armenia, I'll defer to you!! Thanks for reading and commenting!