Armenian cuisine by Aline Kamakian, Barbara Drieskens

May 5, 2012  • 

 

This coffee-table book was on display at the local bookstore and it sparked my interest immediately, especially after I realized that the author was also co-owner of one of the finest Armenian restaurants in Beirut, Mayrig.

What I liked about the book:

  • It is a cookbook with a soul; several Armenian gentle folks are portrayed with their life story recounting the terrible ordeal they lived through; the images in this book point out wide subdued landscapes, gnarled hands stretching cheese or dough, close-up shots of taro, flour or sausages being hung to dry and convey a meditative mood.
  • The layout of the book is clean and extremely well-done; the recipes are very easy to follow and represent homestyle cooking with ingredients that are common in most supermarkets or available in Middle-Eastern shops throughout the world. This cuisine as an Eastern Mediterranean cuisine makes use of fresh and seasonal vegetables.
  • The book is peppered with interesting  side bars containing tips and anecdotes relating to the dish described.
  • This is a very practical cookbook with comfort-style dishes that can be prepared on a weeknight as well as more elaborate ones such as the stuffed keufte in yoghurt soup for special occasions.
What I did not like about the book:
  • This book focuses on Armenian cooking found in the area formerly known as Cilicia which is located in modern-day Turkey. There are no references to Armenia proper, which used to be part of the Soviet Union and is now an independent state.
  • The book is high on feeling but the photos do not showcase the food adequately; most of the recipes show a thumbprint of the actual dish with the large images reserved to close-ups of ingredients or hand gestures. Some of the photos are close-ups of hands or gestures in motion which makes them look blurry.
In conclusion, I am glad I bought this cookbook. Armenian cuisine has a lot of commonalities with Lebanese cuisine (similar kibbeh, use of yogurt, vegetable stews); this cuisine places a lot of emphasis on the Aleppo pepper ( a type of red pepper), which is powdered and used to flavor many dishes and happens to be one of my favorite condiments! I was familiar with most of the dishes in this book (sou burek is a fantastic pasta dish), but was excited by two dishes: pickled fresh almonds and sour plums! Next time I know I will pickle them as well as nibble on them fresh.

Comments

12 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Belinda @zomppa says:

    I can’t say I know Armenian food well – this is a great find!

    • Joumana says:

      @Belinda: This type of Armenian food is very close to Lebanese or Syrian or Kurdish or Turkish food.

      @Manijeh: I am not sure I implied this when I wrote this review, but thank you! I am also a transplant and now feel a bit like a foreigner when I am in Lebanon!

  2. Manijeh says:

    I agree with you. we all must focus on today’s life not live in the past. If we do, then the future is bright for all of us. I love your blog and is very interesting. I am originally from Mid.East but came to US to go to school and ended up staying . This was 37 years ago!!

  3. Sue says:

    Thanks, this looks like an interesting read, I’m fascinated by the pickled almonds!

  4. Gayane says:

    Thank you very much for introducing this book, I wonder where I can buy this book in USA?

  5. gateau algerien says:

    that should be a nice book, hope we’ll see soon some recipes, that you tried
    thank you

  6. Alicia (Foodycat) says:

    Well it certainly looks pretty! The Armenian diaspora certainly produced some of the best “Middle Eastern” cooks in Australia, so I am disposed to like their food.

  7. Robyn Kalajian says:

    I received the “Armenian Cuisine” cookbook s a Christmas gift from my husband – and love it! Here’s a link to a post I wrote about it and 2 other cookbooks I received: http://www.thearmeniankitchen.com/2012/01/you-can-never-have-too-many-cookbooks.html.
    Barbara Drieskens informed me that there is an error on page 319 in the ‘Easter Cookie’ recipe. Instead of 2 2/3 cup flour as stated in the book, it should be 6 cups of flour. You might want to make a note of this.

  8. Glenda says:

    Hi Joumana
    I also bought this book on my holidays. I haven’t made anything from it yet.

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