July 13, 2024


Free For All Food

Fresno, CA female dives into Armenian cookbook for ease and comfort

Fresno, CA female dives into Armenian cookbook for ease and comfort


Armenian cookbooks frequently get passed down, such as this 1 from Carol Godoshian Ragsdale’s loved ones of Michigan. Fresno resident Julianne Burk is getting acquainted with her own family’s cookbook treasures.

KRT/Fresno Bee file

There is a thing about food that is comforting in really hard instances. I assume it has to do with reminiscences. For instance, when my father samples Armenian meals from his childhood, I see his eyes gentle up with contentment, as if he is back again in the kitchen of his late grandmother, a girl who fled to Fresno throughout the Armenian Genocide.

Just lately, I accompanied my dad on a take a look at to the Ararat Armenian Cemetery, exactly where he typically goes to fork out respects to his grandmother and our other ancestors. Wandering the grounds, I came across the grave of William Saroyan, the well known community author whose epitaph reminds us to “smile to the infinite delight and mystery” of lifetime. I also saw the grave of Soghomon Tehlirian, celebrated assassin of Talaat Pasha, the Turkish architect of the genocide.

As fascinating as it was to see these “notable burials” in Fresno’s historic Ararat Armenian Cemetery — the very first of its form exterior of Armenia and the Center East — what really drew me in were being the familiar names of women of all ages I identified from my childhood, numerous of whom I recall for their foods. I questioned just how many recipes had been buried with these ladies and if there was a way to resurrect them.

After home, I opened my personal grandmother’s sacred recipe binder, and out flew a unfastened web site. I unfolded it to locate a handwritten recipe for Iman Biyaldi (“Swooning Eggplant”) from a girl named Martha Parvanian, whose name I did not acknowledge. I questioned if perhaps I experienced been in the vicinity of her grave that extremely morning.

Uplifted by a perception of synchronicity, I established out to make Martha’s eggplant, and the consequence unquestionably lived up to its namesake — the tale of an Imam who swooned just after having this tasty planning of eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers. Pleased with Martha’s recipe revival, I upcoming established out to make tourshi, pickled greens in the Armenian fashion, by a further not known modern day of my grandmother named Barr Andreasian. Most likely it was a morbid endeavor, but I see it as a sort of affirmation.

For as extended as I can try to remember, I preferred to master Armenian cooking and would pay a visit to kinfolk and family good friends for classes. As a youthful girl, I experienced a minor notebook into which I would scrawl, perched on many kitchen counters, listening to the secrets to loaded Armenian coffee, the ideal green beans, and far more than just one definitive stance on the “right way” to make pilaf.

Final year, my notebook exploded into some thing bigger as I undertook a Central Valley Armenian Household Cooking apprenticeship through the Alliance for California Conventional Arts. I even made an on-line website, in which I document these recipes for future generations.

Translating everyday measurements — a handful of this and a splash of that — into formalized recipes is like restoring lost artifacts and showcasing them for long run “scientists” like me, who are interested in sparking reminiscences through food items. Memories of our creativity, our record, and our resilience.

Martha Parvanian and Barr Andreasian’s recipes are by much the most mysterious in my repertoire due to the fact there is so a lot unwritten between the strains. Recreating their dishes was like stumbling by way of the dark, and it underscored the worth of learning from my parent’s generation although I can.

At a time marked by so significantly reduction, to have an awakening of this kind was a ease and comfort unto by itself.

And for that awakening to consider the type of scrumptious dishes once dormant, that light up my dad’s eyes with a basic style? Effectively, that is as delightful and as mysterious as it will get.

“In the time of your life, stay — so that in that wondrous time you shall not incorporate to the distress and sorrow of the globe, but shall smile to the infinite delight and thriller of it.”

Julianne R. Burk is a Fresno enterprise operator and Emmy-nominated advocate who weblogs as The Stranger In Your Kitchen. https://thestrangerinyourkitchen.com/