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Armenia - Cooking and Food

Overview of Armenian Cuisine History

Armenia has been inhabited since antiquity. People believe that this country is the place of the biblical Garden of Eden. Its culture has survived for more than two millenniums, although it has been dominated by many nations, due to its strategic location. Among the greatest empires that once controlled Armenia, the most important were those of the Assyrians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Turks, Persians, Byzantines and Mongols. Also, Armenia has been a part of the Ottoman Empire and during the 20th century, part of the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. All the nations with which Armenia made contact affected its culture. The Armenian cuisine also has been influenced by these nations.

Due to the fact that Armenia is close to Georgia, and that both were included in the Transcaucasian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic, there are many cooking concepts, and even traditions that are shared by both of them.

Armenians use a great variety of ingredients in their traditional dishes. Fish, diverse types of meats and numerous sorts of fruits and vegetables, combined with also a great number of condiments, lead to the uniqueness of the Armenian cuisine, both in taste and in look. Some of the recipes, though, are typical to an entire region. For example, one of the Armenian desserts called baklava is also made in Turkey and in a great part of the Balkans.

People are proud of their national cuisine. The most important dishes are tolma, kololak, basturma, khaplama. As the Armenians eat almost everything with bread, the existence of two types of this essential item is good. Lavash and matnakash are the names of the Armenian bread varieties.

Also, Armenia is known for its beverages, that include wine, brandy, vodka and cognac. This country also features a multitude of mineral water springs.

Cuisines of Armenia

Map of Armenia

Map of Armenia- Click to enlarge

The Armenian cuisine has inherited ideas from each of the civilization that controlled its territory. The Armenian dishes may resemble of Turkish, Greek, Arab and Georgian recipes. Of course, these are only few of the nations that affected the Armenian culture, throughout the milleniums. The Armenian cuisine is different not only from the cuisine of the other nations, but presents dissimmilarities even across Armenia's territory.

The regional cuisine that is the most important in Armenia is the one from the area called Yerevan.

By Geographic Area and Style:

  • Yerevan Cuisine

Armenian Food Glossary

Finding the ingredients for an Armenian Recipe is not so easy when you do not know the names of the ingredients. Take time to make a list of ingredients and the name they may be found under at the Local Markets.

Preparation Methods for Armenian Cooking

The Armenian cuisine is complex only because of the great number of ingredients that may be used. On the other hand, the preparation methods of the Armenian dishes are simple. Of course, each recipe may require a certain way of preparing, but the cooking techniques that are used in the Armenian cuisine are the same that are used across Europe. The most frequently used preparation methods are: boiling, grilling, baking, salting, frying and seasoning. The Armenians offer to the spices an important role in their cuisine, so one should know what quantity is required by a certain recipe.

Special Equipment for Armenian Cooking

The Armenian cuisine uses the typical cooking tools that are utilized by most of the modern cuisines. In an Armenian kitchen the equipment used for preparing, storing and serving the dishes consists of knives, teaspoons and tablespoons, forks, boxes for the spices, trays in which the pies are cooked, pans for frying, scoops, mills for grinding the spices, bowls and pots, food scales, kitchen thermometers, strainers and graters. Other tools may also be utilized, but they are not uncommon, whatsoever.

Armenian Food Traditions and Festivals

Armenia shares some of its traditions with Georgia. For example, the ancient ritual that consists of picking one person as tamada is popular in this country, too. That person sits at the head of the table and makes the toasts. It is usually chosen by the host from the guests. The sense of humor and the wisdom are the most important criteria.

The Armenian food festivals do not take place only in Armenia. All over the world where there is Armenian diaspora such events are organized. As evidence, the Armenian Food Festival that is planned each year in the United States of America is a great opportunity for the Armenians to display their national treasure, in matter of cuisine. The beoreg, sarma, Lamb shish kebab, tabouleh, katah, kufta and the Lamb shanks are the most important Armenian dishes that are exposed on occasions like this.

Also, national wine festivals are organized, in order to show to the rest of the world the great variety of wines that are made in Armenia. Of course, this is an opportunity for the Armenians to also present their national dishes, along with the beverages. People from the villages sell at these festivals many foods, as well as many ingredients, that range from dairy products to fruits.

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