BEIRUT — In April 2012, co-authors Aline Kamakian and Barbara Drieskens wrapped up a month-long, AGBU-coordinated tour across the U.S. and Canada to promote their widely acclaimed publication Armenian Cuisine. Equal parts cookbook, photo essay, and oral history, the released hardcover quickly found, and is still finding, its place on kitchen counters and coffee tables in homes around the world.
The book’s concept was developed by Aline, who is the Lebanese-Armenian chef and owner of the renowned Beirut restaurant, Mayrig. She hoped to resolve her clients’ questions about why the Armenian foods listed on the menu were known by Turkish names, and record her mother Vardui’s cherished family recipes along the way. Aline’s quest took her to the ancestral Armenian land of Cilicia in present day southeastern Turkey. Knowing her talents lay more in cooking than writing, she forged a collaboration with Drieskens, a trained anthropologist. The two embarked on an emotional three-week journey across almost 2,000 miles. The result is a striking volume filled with 139 classic recipes and hundreds of photographs of landscapes and natural foods that have made it a 2012 New York Photo Festival contender.
“Cook with Aline” is Aline’s popular YouTube channel. “It tells my story, my struggle and my love and pride for the Armenian heritage. With over 300 episodes filmed and edited, these episodes are an extremely powerful tool to reach out to food enthusiasts and introduce them to our wide culinary heritage. We teach how to prepare the best Armenian dishes. It’s a step-by-step guide through our history, through our mothers’ cooking and our holiday feasts. For me, this is more than a cooking show, it’s my heart, mind and soul, put all in one place, spreading the Armenian culinary heritage around the world map.”
“Armenian Cuisine by the founders and chefs at the Mayrig restaurant in Beirut have brought to market a stunning cookery book which would be a wonderful coffee table book in itself, but for the fact it will get quickly stained by food through overuse. The chapters are typically divided by ingredient but more interestingly, throughout the book are interviews regarding the cuisine in different region of historic Armenia and their specialties such as Urfa, Musa Ler and Cilicia, bringing together in one book dishes that remind me of my Lebanese-Armenian grandmother but also my Cypriot-Armenian grandmother and their cooking traditions. Like the best of these women, all the measurements are in cups and you can easily end up cooking for 20 people with one recipe–the only way for us,” wrote Arda Eghiayan, from the Armenian Institute in London.
Robyn Kalajian at The Armenian Kitchen food blog (https://thearmeniankitchen.com/) says, “When Armenians prepare for Easter or this time of year, chorag is always on the menu. This is also a time for baking delicious Easter cookies like Zadigi Kahke.” Robyn contacted Barbara Drieskens since she had a question about the amount of flour listed in the recipe. “Barbara told me there was an error in the printed recipe — the cookbook said to use 2 and 2/3 cups flour, when in fact, it should be 6 cups of flour.”