FOWLER, Calif. — Located about 10 miles south of downtown Fresno in the quiet farming community of Fowler, St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Apostolic Church parishioners have met and held church services in the original structure since 1910, making it the second oldest Armenian Church still in use today in America (the oldest is located in Union City, NJ, consecrated in 1907). St. Gregory Church has the distinction of being the fourth oldest established Armenian Apostolic parish in the country.
These recipes are featured in Collections from the Grapevine, 30th Anniversary Edition, an indispensable Armenian (and American) cookbook written by the Ladies Society of St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church.
As the preface of the cookbook states, “As the Ladies Society of St. Gregory the Illuminator, our objective is to study, practice, and to propagate the teachings of the Holy Scriptures, the doctrines, and rites of the Armenian church. 2020 found us adapting to a global pandemic by changing our daily routines and spending more time at home – especially in our kitchens. Creating a home-cooked meal became more than an infrequent endeavor. It stood as a means for younger generations to quiet the rush of their busy lives and bond over food and family. Older generations found comfort in revisiting past routines filled with sweet memories.”
“In revising this cookbook, we have retained nearly all of the original recipes and have added almost 100 new ones. We have reorganized sections to make them more user-friendly, and have added an index to assist in finding foods you might like to prepare. We hope you will enjoy this new edition and use it regularly. As you knead the dough, or roll the yalanchi, may your hearts be fed.”
“Collections from the Grapevine is dedicated to the hard-working and devoted women who loved and supported this church from its early beginnings over 110 years ago. These women worked tirelessly to prepare countless meals for church dinners, food bazaars, picnics, and other events. Through the years, their many culinary talents and efforts received accolades from both Armenians and non-Armenians alike. The first edition of the cookbook (1990) aimed at keeping our heritage alive by transmitting and preserving favorite, well-tested recipes to future generations. We hope this edition will meet the same goals.”
Imam Bayeldi (Eggplant Appetizer) – from Mary Krikorian