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Arsenio Sunday: A taste of Armenia

Armenia is a landlocked country on the crossroads between Europe and Asia, bordered by Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and Georgia. It is just smaller than Belgium or the US state of Maryland. There is a population of around 3 million people living in Armenia and a diaspora of more than 7 million Armenians resident in over 100 countries.

We have just come back from a lightning trip to the capital, Yerevan and returned laden with some of the classic tastes of this fascinating and beautiful country.

Yerevan is an ancient city, older than Rome and Armenia’s culinary history is the most ancient in the Caucasus region, dating from over 2.000 years ago. The early and established development of animal rearing in the highlands means that there is plentiful meat and dairy.

There are traditional recipes and an incredible variety of cheese and fermented products, not to mention fresh-water fish from Lake Sevan. The early appearance of agriculture explains the extensive use of grains, vegetables and herbs. The tonir oven – not unlike a tandoor - is where the traditional flatbread, lavash, is prepared. Lavash has been on the Unesco List of Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2014 and is a staple of Armenian cuisine. During the excavations in the Town of Artashat an underground tonir was discovered, dating back to 1st millennium BC. Another characteristic feature of this cuisine is the extensive use of herbs and spices. Armenian cooks use up to 300 species of wild flowers and herbs as seasonings - heaven for the gut biome!

Check out our video from the market in Yerevan and look out for our recipe for Brtuch coming later this week….

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