The “Sun-Seasoned” Cuisine of Armenia

Those who have been in Armenia at least once, must have known about the delicious and hospitable Armenian cuisine, and those who have never visited Armenia must have at least heard about it. My dear reader, I am going to tell you that besides being tasty, our cuisine is also very beautiful. And the Armenian cuisine is in general filled with a few teaspoons of the sun, especially in autumn.

 If you are in Armenia in autumn, don’t miss going to the market however few hours or days you are going to spend here. It doesn’t refer to the supermarkets, but the most ordinary markets: the sellers here will feed you so much that you’ll not be able to eat for many more hours or even for the whole next day (even if you’re not such a gourmand like me).

Technics is not so developed that I could be able to transfer the taste and smell of the Armenian cookery through these lines, however I can transfer their forms and colors.

Who might imagine that “spicing fruits with the sun”, you get the most delicious desserts in the world (it’s not banned to boast, especially that it’s worth it).  My question was not rhetoric and has an answer: the Armenian grandmothers. Can you guess who might make up keeping the fruits and vegetables in containers, spicing them, preserving their natural colors and  aligning them symmetrically in different colors. Exactly, the Armenian grandmothers. If only the world fashion designers saw the combination of colors and design of their canned food, they would create a new fashion collection. That’s half joking-half serious. But if they saw the symmetry and shades of the pickled vegetables, they would surely do.

Of course the oratory is not bad, but it’s time to cover our main topic. Among many unwritten laws, traditions, preparing for winter is among the top three of the national habits. And when is it better to do that if not in autumn? The Armenian autumn is not only beautiful, but also very generous: you may have as many fruits and vegetables as you can carry. There’s an Armenian saying  “The soul is deep” (ed: meaning that someone has a habit of collecting goods, things, money etc.,  so that one day they may need to use it), it perfectly describes the women in Armenian families. The Armenian women are addressed with this saying because they always have food and products in their homes to treat their guests with a delicious hospitality. The empty jars for the winter stock are currently being replaced by the new colorful ones, filled with fruits and vegetables.

The Armenian women are really creative: one may not count for how long the “Armenian tchir” (dried fruits) has existed. There’s no fruit that can’t be sun-seasoned and made a masterpiece of taste. Among the most unique desserts in the world are the sour lavash (ed: Armenian thin bread) and dried Armenian fruits. Yes, exactly the Armenian fruits. It’s been broadly  spoken that the fruits of Armenia have a unique sweetness and in these autumn days one may taste fresh ripe fruits right from the trees or  have a little patience while our women’s sweet hands will dry them, adding a little syrup. Both the Armenian apricot and the dried apricot differ by their taste. There’s no exaggeration: may anyone taste it and their reaction will tell for itself. 

There’re a few recipes to make dried fruits: the fruits are filled with sweet sugar and lemon syrup,  cooked a little and then put in the warmth of the sun, making the sweet dessert. Actually the sun in Armenian in autumn is also very specific. No grotesque, I’m totally serious. Just like it ripens the fruits with a special sweetness, it also makes a ready dessert by drying those fruits like a sculpture that attracts tourists with its appetizing shine and shape.

In Armenian families making canned food is one of the autumn traditions. A lot will change in the world, the desire to get everything ready will increase, robots will replace people in their work somewhere on the planet, we may spend our summer holidays on Mars, but  the mothers and grandmothers in Armenia will continue being proud of the special place in their homes that’s always ready to welcome any guest. The jars are carefully arranged there, condensing not only the world’s most delicious jam, sour vegetables, sweet juices, tomato-peppers and a little spicy eggplant caviar, but also the family’s ardor, a few grams of warmth and love from the Armenian sun.

Autumn Armenia is the colors, fruits and warmth of the family that are carefully packed into trays, cooked on the stove, and tined. Dried fruits that seem to have been stolen  from the canvas of a famous artist, having been painted not by the artist but by nature itself- the autumn sun of Armenia.

The Armenian markets remind a real museum hall in autumn: fruits that have been sliced and combined with a strong sense of imagination; pink  cabbage in the combination with green leaves, containers that are filled with  the human’s unbelievable thought, people have done their best to create a real masterpiece (I am not afraid to use that word). A jar of the family warmth and a plate with the Armenian autumn sun. This is how we may describe our dried fruits- the Armenian tchir and canned food.

P.S.  Only when I reached the end of the article, I realized that I’ve been munching and enjoying during the whole writing process, and my enjoyment reached its climax when I thought about sour lavash. I have no idea of how it is being made. Of course I could look it up in the internet, but I don’t want to cheat of having known the recipe. Besides, only a skilled housewife can tell how it is being prepared. And to be honest, better than describing  all that in crunching words, I am only able to eat that.