FRESNO — Chorag, sometimes spelled choroeg, cheoreg, or chorek in English is a traditional Armenian sweet bread made around Easter and often at Christmas. This is the late Barbara Theresa Adishian’s prized Chorag with Golden Raisins recipe that is featured in A Taste of Fresno Armenian and American Cuisine Cookbook, published by the Ladies of St. Paul Armenian Church, Ladies Society, Fresno, California, First Printing 1995, Second Printing Revised Edition 2003.
Barbara was born on December 4, 1926 in Worcester, MA. Her parents were Joseph and Valerie Novakoski. She attended nursing school after she left high school. Barbara moved from Worcester to Fresno with her husband John and their eldest son, Jack, in 1953. Her other two sons, Kevin and Greg, were born in Fresno. She worked for years as a registered nurse at various places, including Valley Children’s Hospital and Hypana in Fresno. She was a member of the Daughters of Vartan and served as the Fresno Chapter’s Dirouhie (leader). She volunteered at St. Paul Armenian Church, and loved baking and preparing many memorable family meals, especially with the fresh vegetables from their amazing garden.
Barbara passed away on June 29, 2020 in Fresno at 93 years old. Her beloved husband of 70 years, John Paul Adishian, Sr., passed away in 2019. Her recipe is reprinted here in her memory and honor. As her family says, “She was a fantastic baker. There were always delicious oatmeal cookies, chorags and desserts in her freezer. She was the consummate and loving wife, mother, and grandmother.”
As Liana Aghajanian writes in Dining in Diaspora:
“Perhaps the most enduring and symbolic of food traditions centers around a sweet bread called “choreg” made during Easter, which emits a fragrance while baking that is so potent, so intoxicating, it is permanently embedded in the olfactory memories of the adults who once grew up with it. For many families, choreg has been the link that has connected them to their Armenian-ness to who they feel they are. When circumstances beyond their control have caused the disintegration of families, lineage and identity, food has remained the last cultural remnant of historically oppressed people who have lost so much. They may have forgotten everything else, but choreg never dies. For many, choreg is an all-out obsession, inhaled in copious amounts at the first opportunity. No matter how much you eat, it never seems to be enough. No matter how much time has passed since you’ve eaten it, you will never forget the taste.”
Childhood memories connect us to the past and to our families, customs, traditions, and heritage. We know this special chorag recipe that Barbara Adishian made for her family and friends will continue to be enjoyed (and remembered) for many years to come.