Armenia, the Hidden Gastro Track

A Culinary Marriage of East and West

Publish Time:2022-08-19 18:23:05Source:Tourism Unit of Yerevan Municipality

【Introduction】:Nestled along the ancient Silk Road, Armenia's unique culinary culture remains one of the best-kept secrets on the peripheries of Europe.

Nestled along the ancient Silk Road, Armenia's unique culinary culture remains one of the best-kept secrets in the peripheries of Europe.

With mountainous regions leading to isolated valleys, recognizable middle eastern and eastern European dishes have been passed down from generation to generation and morphed into their own elevated flavors.

Making heavy use of local herbs - Parsley, Tarragon, mountain Mint and others - Armenian dishes are brimming with freshness. Like Tolma, stuffed vine or cabbage leaves, eggplants, or other vegetables with meat uniquely spiced and seasoned… Or Kyufta, meatballs with spices...with the crown jewel of Armenian cuisine being Khorovats (Barbeque), a necessity on the table for any Armenian celebration.

Not to be outdone, Armenia offers plenty of delicious vegan dishes, like Lenten Kyufta… 'Imitation meatballs' made with red lentils, onions and spices… Or Ghapama, a rice pilaf dish with dried fruits and spices baked to perfection inside… Or Jingalov Hats, a delicacy of thin lavash bread stuffed with over 40 different herbs.

Don't forget to follow this by indulging in some world-class Armenian wines! One of the cradles of ancient winemaking, after a brief interlude in soviet times, Armenia is rapidly making waves with its array of high-quality wines made from indigenous grape varieties. Armenian wines have been taking home more and more gold medals in wine competitions like Mundus Vini or the Monde Selection Wine Contest.

Bread is an ancient and enduring symbol of Armenian heritage, with the indigenous Lavash bread being a staple of Armenian food. It's a thin, unleavened bread, much thinner than other near eastern bread varieties like Pita. So integral to Armenian culture is the bread, that in a cave near Areni village (the same cave where the world's oldest winery, as well as the world's oldest leather shoe, were found), a vertical stone oven called Tonir the wider world knows as Tandoor, was found dating back to the 6th century BC.

Since the indescribable nature of Armenia, rivers, ponds and turquoise lakes form an integral part of the country's landscape, it is no coincidence that the rivers and lakes here are stocked with unique local fish. The Sevan trout and Sevan whitefish are special delicacies. They are local fish species that are prepared using dozens of recipes. As far as snacks go, basturma (a sort of dried spiced meat jerky) and sujukh (a spicy sausage) are loved everywhere.

Luckily, all discoveries to be made are not so ancient, as the capital city Yerevan is home to a blossoming and increasingly popular gastro tourism scene. With yearly festivals celebrating Gata, a local dessert, the Tolma festival, the Ghapama Festival, the Utest Festival, the Areni Wine Festival, the Beer Festival in Yerevan. And who can forget the world-famous Yerevan wine days - a three-day event where entire streets of the capital are closed off to cars and jam-packed with local wine producers surrounded by crowds of festive amateur wine tasters and wine lovers!

Finally, even traditional Armenian dishes are being revived and elevated in many of Yerevan's top-rated restaurants, with new farm-to-table concepts, fresh local ingredients, and wine pairings…All for less than a fraction of what an ordinary restaurant would cost in any European or North American city.

Armenia truly is the hidden gem for foodies and gastro enthusiasts.

But be sure to visit soon…It won't remain hidden for long!

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