In 2015 while on a flight to Yangon for the Burma Superstar cookbook, photographer John Lee and I started talking about how much we loved Armenian food. I had only met John a couple of times before this flight, but you can find out a lot about someone when you're stuck in an airplane for hours. I explained that I had written an entire research paper about the Armenian food and cultural identity as an undergraduate at UCDavis. John filled me in on his recent trip to Yerevan, Armenia's capital, where he taught a food photography workshop to Armenian high-school kids through an amazing after-school education organization called TUMO. While our attention went back to Burmese food for the rest of the trip, we kept returning to the idea of an Armenian cookbook. Could we do it?
After many weeks of talking to other people about Armenian food, John met Ara Zada, a chef in Southern California. Ara is Armenian-American and grew up going to Armenian school though seventh grade. He had also taught a class at TUMO in Yerevan, and it was through the incredible TUMO network that John met him. The team started to take shape: Me, the cookbook writer; John, the photographer; and Ara, the chef.
Fast-forward to November 2017 and we're in Armenia making connections in the tight-knit food and wine community with the help of Marie Lou Papazian, the director of Tumo, her family, and other Tumo-nians. We still need to do a lot of work on the book before it's ready to be published. But in the meantime, you can follow along our adventures on Instagram here: @lavashthebook and on Facebook here: @lavashthebook.