Saturday, October 2, 2010

Not Armenia

This is not the post I had hoped to be posting this week. I had hoped to tell you that I was off on a two-week trip to Armenia, my de facto homeland (although all my grandparents were from towns that are well into Turkey). I had hoped to tell you that I busy eating pomegranates right off the trees and seeing bread cook in tradition tanor ovens (the precursor to the Indian tandoor). Instead, our trip had to be canceled at the very last minute, and I'm left telling you that I am still here in Boston, missing a place that I have never seen.

The morning of our trip, my father woke up with the worst arthritis pain he has ever had, and we spent the morning on the phone with Air France and American Express Travel trying to recoup some of our losses (over 4 hours on the phone, however, gained us nothing, and we still lost the entire cost of our plane tickets). To say it mildly, I was bummed, but we all agreed that it was better to be safe than sorry.

So then I hoped that I would cook a bunch of Armenian dishes, but I haven't exactly lived up to that promise. I've mostly been moping around, trying to keep my DVR as clean as possible and working on some embroideries. I have promised my father a batch of simit, and I have already bought the ingredients for that, so I know I'll make at least one recipe in the next few days. I've been wanting to try something different, but I realized that I've already made quite a few Armenian dishes for this blog: manti, paklava, baba ganoush, kadayif, sou boreg, tourshi, vospov kheyma, mock kheyma, and string cheese.

Instead, while I was busy organizing and packing for the trip last week, I took some time to make tabbouleh from the piles of parsley in my garden. I hadn't anticipated that it would be useful in such a way as this, but these things always work out as they should, right?

Tabbouleh (often spelled tabouli or with other variations) can be made in a million different ways, as long as there is parsley, bulgur wheat, oil, and lemon juice. I like mine to be predominantly parsley, with just a hint of wheat, but the ratios can be changed depending on your own taste. I also love chopping herbs, so I don't mind the effort that goes into making this dish predominantly parsley. I like a little spice in mine, but that can be left out.

1/2 cup fine bulgur wheat
1 cup warm water
2 large bunches parsley
2 large sprigs mint
4 scallions
1 large tomato
olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, combine bulgur wheat and water. Stir so that all the grains are coated with water. Let soak while you chop the vegetables, or at least 30 minutes. If the wheat soaks up all the water while you are chopping, add a little bit more.

Finely mince the parsley, mint, and scallions. I mean fine. Remove the seeds from the tomato and chop fine. Pour off any excess water from the bulgur wheat, then add parsley, mint, scallions, and tomato. Add some olive oil, a little at a time, and the lemon juice. Toss well to coat. Make sure to add enough oil so that the salad is not dry. Season with salt and pepper (or cayenne pepper) to taste.


Adrienne said...

Oh, Pam, this is such a huge bummer. I'm sorry your trip got cancelled; I hope you get to go in the future.

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

I'm sorry about the trip and I hope that you'll be able to see Armenia someday...Also sending good thoughts your way for your dad!

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry Pam, but kudos for making the best of it. I really enjoy your Armenian food posts, especially the paklava. Have you ever made eech? My boyfriend is Armenian and eech is the first Armenian dish he made me because it's meatless and super simple.

Pam said...

Thanks, ladies - I appreciate your kind words.

Elizabeth, my mock kheyma is pretty much the same thing as eech. There are only so many ways to combine bulgur and tomato sauce :) You might enjoy the vospov kheyma for a meatless meal - they take a little while to shape, but they last in the fridge for quite a while and are wicked filling.

Anonymous said...

Haha. So true. I like your quote from the comments on the kheyma post "The food in that region is basically the same thing with different names."

Anonymous said...

You mentioned string cheese here and that reminded me - you inspired me to try it recently for the first time. I made dill string cheese, and everyone went nuts over it! Gotta make your Baraze again soon too. Love it! Thanx for checking in on my new blog. I've got a bunch of Armenian recipes, but won't be posting most of them for a while - until I make them again so I can post pics. Hopefully I can inspire you to try something new as well.:) So sorry your trip fell through! My relatives originate from Van, so I've always wanted to make the trip myself. Someday...

Pam said...

It's funny how rabid people can be about the food from the region - it really is one big mishmash of cultures and flavors in the middle east, but each group wants to claim a recipe as their own!

I'm so glad, Chris! Did you make your own curds too? I need to order the supplies to do it and give string cheese another try.

Erin said...

I am so sorry to hear the details behind the cancellation of your trip! I hope your dad is feeling better now. While I cannot offer you a fabulous vacation I can certainly offer you some distraction. Let me know when you're free. We can go see a movie or something? Were you planning to go to the Boston Book Festival?

adele said...

Uh. Sorry to hear about your trip. Your tabbouleh looks delicious, though.

Christian Garbis said...

I was hoping to meet you during your visit, heard through the grapevine you were all coming. I'm Linda Russian's son, Christian. You can read my blog, Notes From Hairenik at Hope to see you all soon.

Anonymous said...

Pam, I am so sorry to hear that your trip had to be cancelled! Your dad is so lucky to have you. I know you will get to Armenia someday - hopefully sooner than later!

jenious said...

So sorry to read this news, Pam. I do hope your dad is feeling much better. Take care!