Armenian Adventures, Part 1

It’s been over a month since I concluded my Georgian Adventures with a look at the stores and markets of Tbilisi. And to start this Armenian Adventures series, I thought I would introduce you to Yerevan’s central market. I also recommend this excellent post about food and wine in Yerevan. Don’t miss the bread-making video!

From the outside, the central market distinguishes itself by the unusual sight of the dancing fruits and vegetables that decorate the roof:

As you’ll see, this visit will get us acquainted with the major ingredients of Armenian cuisine.

Mulberries (tut in Armenian), white and black, are everywhere during summer, to the point where I wonder why anyone would bother buying them at the market when all you have to do is put a plastic tarp under a tree and collect your berries at the end of the day! They produce delicious homemade brandy, too.

Lavash, a large flatbread, is another Armenian staple, and there’s no shortage of it since very few people still make their own. Careful, though — it dries out quickly!

Cheese, together with tomatoes and cucumbers (and lavash!), is a lunch classic. The most common kinds, traditionally made from sheep’s milk, are a sort of brynza and a string cheese:

Just like its Caucasian neighbors, Armenia is a paradise of nuts and dried fruits. You may recognize the churchkhela (mental floss here). The dark sheets hanging next to them are fruit lavash, made from plums or other seasonal fruits.

Spices and honey are well represented too, but I need your help, dear readers! If anyone happens to know Armenian, could you send me the names of the spices on the picture? (I can send you a larger version.)

Finally, no overview of the local cuisine would be complete without mentioning khorovats, the Armenian barbecued food that you’ll be eating in 99% of the restaurants in summer, whether it’s vegetables, fish or meat on a skewer — everything is on a skewer since the traditional grill doesn’t use a grate. There’s even a street, Proshian St., nicknamed “Barbecue Street”. Here are the ground beef kebabs of Artashi Mot, a famous restaurant in the city center.

Expect some kebab and lavash recipes and in the coming weeks!

Note: despite the 3 product placements in the above pictures, this post is not sponsored by Coca-Cola.