In April, co-authors Aline Kamakian and Barbara Drieskens from Lebanon wrapped up a month-long, AGBU-coordinated tour across the U.S. and Canada to promote their widely acclaimed publication “Armenian Cuisine.” Equal parts cookbook, photo essay, and oral history, the recently released hardcover is quickly finding its place on kitchen counters and coffee tables in homes around the world.
The book’s concept was developed by Kamakian, who, as a Lebanese-Armenian chef and owner of the renowned Beirut restaurant, Mayrig, hoped to resolve her clients’ questions about why the Armenian foods listed on the menu were known by Turkish names. Her quest for answers took her to the ancestral Armenian land of Cilicia in present day southeastern Turkey. Knowing her talents lay more in cooking than writing, she forged a collaboration with Drieskens, a trained anthropologist. The two embarked on an emotional three-week journey across almost 2,000 miles. The result is a striking volume filled with 139 classic recipes and hundreds of photographs of landscapes and natural foods that have made it a 2012 New York Photo Festival contender.
As Kamakian and Drieskens chronicle throughout their trip, they struggled to reconcile the land’s beauty with the horrific atrocities that had been committed there. They were alarmed to see centuries-old Armenian churches in ruins and the Armenian language completely unspoken. However, they soon found that the region’s Armenian history was being preserved through traditional cooking. While they spent time with local families, many the survivors of the Armenian Genocide who are profiled in the book, the authors realized that the kitchen was where the past was recounted. Through traditional dishes, such as mante, urfa kebab and dolma, some of the many highlighted in the publication, they discovered that the people of Cilicia have kept Armenian culture alive for generations.
Before the “Armenian Cuisine” tour culminated at the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Festival on the weekend of April 20th, it brought Kamakian and Drieskens to AGBU cities including Montreal on April 15th, Boston on the 18th, New York on the 19th, and New Jersey and Philadelphia on April 20th. At each stop, groups listened to the women’s stories from their trip, watched them prepare food, and sampled various dishes such as Armenian Nut and Olive Salad, Bride Fingers, and Philo Dough Pastries with Walnuts.
For free recipes and more information on “Armenian Cuisine,” please visit: http://www.armenian-cuisine.com/index.htm.
To purchase copies in the U.S., please email firstname.lastname@example.org.