Saturday, December 10, 2011

Armenian Cookbooks and a History Lesson

I've been shopping for Christmas presents this afternoon - for an affordable Armenian cookbook, in particular. I didn't realize how difficult the task would be. I guess I didn't realize (until I looked at a map a few minutes ago) just how small and insignificant Armenia is in the world. I mean, Armenia is on par, size-wise, with Israel. But I'm not saying that Israel is insignificant. I guess I'm saying that people see Armenia as insignificant, but it's not.

Here's a fact for you: People complain about Israel or Palestine "losing" land - or any number of "countries" (IE: ethnic/religious groups in that region) but Armenia seriously lost a lot of land to Turkey. It's like 700 km from Yerevan to the Mediterranean, and you've got to figure that Armenia at one point stretched at least 200 km both to the North and South of Musa Dagh, which is basically right on that sea. But let's keep in mind that the history of this region of the world has always been messed up. Land is trading hands all the time, and it's been that way for way over 2000 years. I don't want to get into a debate over whose land it really is... My opinion is that all land is on loan from God, and one day he's going to take it all back for himself anyway...

So my quick history/geography lesson came as a result of researching various regions of "Armenia". You see, to at least some Armenians, they still call parts of what is now Turkey "Armenia". I don't disagree. But I also don't think it matters, in some senses. What I mean is: politically what you call a place matters. Historically what you call a place matters. But when it comes to calling a place your home, if you're an Armenian, if you grew up in Cilicia, for example, you're likely to call your childhood home "Armenia." I think.

Back to my quest for an quality Armenian cookbook.

I'm not sure there is one. I've found a lot of "church lady cookbooks" - you know, the ones the ladies at churches compile and print for their congregations? Yeah...

If I had the money, I think this was the most promising one I found. Again, I think it's too much money:

- this bad boy is 65 USD, including shipping!!!

Looks pretty cool, but you can't really look inside. A ton of pictures, but could probably use either fewer and more recipes or just fewer all together. And cheaper, please. But again, this one hits the mark as far as hip factor goes. It sounds like the authors have a killer restaurant in Lebanon...

My second and third choices are pretty much equals, and I'd hate to settle on my gift by buying one of these seemingly lesser cookbooks. Again, the problem with shopping for cookbooks online is that you can't really get a good feel for them. Here are those two:

The Recipes of Musa Dagh - $20 on Amazon.


Simply Armenian - Only $17.

So what do you all think I should do? I'm totally torn. Oh yeah, this search has also help me to come to the conclusion that Armenians don't use cookbooks, so the mere fact that I'm even looking for one is paradoxical.

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