Since Lavash is coming out this month, I’ve been revisiting some of the photos of Armenia that I took on research trips in 2017 and 2018 with my co-authors John Lee and Ara Zada. Visiting a place at different times of the year helps get a better sense of what makes it tick. Looking back, I know our book would be different had we not witnessed the 2018 velvet revolution in Armenia. Here’s what the streets of Yerevan sounded like the day before the prime minister stepped down. It was emotional and electric. We watched it all while eating the spiced cured meat basturma at a little wine bar called Basturma, then we followed the protestors. By the evening, the entire city had taken to the streets in celebration, car horns blaring well past midnight.
For a cookbook, visiting during different times of the year gives a better sense of colors and flavors. In the late fall on my first trip to the country, quince, apples, cabbage, and potatoes filled market stalls. By spring, wild greens were sold everywhere, even at our favorite lavash bakery in Argel.
The following are snapshots taken with my phone, nothing fancy. But in my mind, they’re like my postcards, my memories of these incredible trips. Armenia is not easy to get to from California, but once there, it has a familiar terrain of dry climate and a history of fruit cultivation, both fresh and dried. In our book, in addition to recipes for lavash and the foods you eat with it (which, in Armenia, is nearly everything), we offered windows into pockets of this place, a country that is changing quickly.