The Cuisine of Armeniaby Sonia Uvezian
Situated at the crossroads of east and west between the Mediterranean, Black, and Caspian seas, the richly historic region of Armenia has provided the world with one of its most varied and exciting culinary traditions. Fragrant with the aromas of spices and herbs, Armenian cuisine abounds in succulent kebabs, stuffed vegetables and fruits, opulent pilafs, delectable breads, and irresistible pastries and confections that have been perfected by generations of ingenious cooks over a period of many centuries. The 375 recipes and variations in this book range from time-honored favorites to inspired innovations and include many highly original specialties from the Caucasus, which were previously unknown in the West. You will find all the classics in this definitive guide - tanabour, dolma, sarma, keufteh, shish kebab, moussaka, boereg, manti, lahmajoon, lavash, pideh, choereg, gatah, baklava, tel kadayif, kurabia, and many more. As a bonus, the book includes a number of Sonia Uvezian's own superb creations, derived from the Armenian tradition, important contributions to a vigorous culinary style. Among these are Pomegranate-Glazed Roast Chicken with Apricot and Chestnut Stuffing; Fried Fish with Oranges, Black Olives, and Mint Leaves; Saffron Rice Pilaf with Toasted Almonds and Sesame Seeds; and Yogurt Cream (a delectable low-calorie alternative to sweetened whipped cream). The book also includes valuable historical information, a selection of perfectly harmonized menus, and an excellent glossary. Long recognized as the standard in its field, The Cuisine of Armenia has received outstanding reviews from major publications both in this country and abroad and has been a selection of four different book clubs. Written by one of America's most gifted cookbook authors, it is a "must have" volume, whether you already own one or dozens of books on Armenian, Middle Eastern, or eastern Mediterranean cooking.
Sonia Uvezian was born and brought up in Beirut, Lebanon. A leading authority on Middle Eastern and Caucasian cooking and the winner of a James Beard Award, she is the author of six other highly acclaimed cookbooks, including Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen, Cooking from the Caucasus, and the Book of Yogurt. Several of her books have been selections of Book-of-the-Month Club and published internationally. Ms. Uvezian has also contributed articles and recipes to Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Vogue, and numerous other publications.
Comes now a new reason for my Armenian enthusiasm. We used to hear a lot about "the starving Armenians" but...it is hard to think of Armenians being hungry when examining The Cuisine of Armenia by Sonia Uvezian...It is a book of recipes so rich, so lavish and exotic that most cooks will readily discard any prejudices they ever had against so-called "foreign food." -- Des Moines Register
Committee for Cultural Relations with Armenians Abroad
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This is an exceptionally fine cookbook, for which Sonia Uvezian deserves the eternal gratitude of food lovers. Anyone seriously interested in Armenian food should own this groundbreaking classic written by one of the most knowledgeable experts in the field. The book offers hundreds of healthful and imaginative recipes (many of them previously unknown in the West). I have tried well over half of them, and all have turned out superbly. Uvezian's text is highly informative, her directions are wonderfully clear and easy to follow, and the ingredients called for are widely available. 'The Cuisine of Armenia' is a user-friendly guide for beginners and an indispensable reference for advanced cooks. It has long been considered the standard work in its subject area and should make Armenians even more proud of their heritage than they may already have been.
When I saw the first edition of this book, which was published in 1974, I thought that Sonia Uvezian had begun her food writing career in a manner in which most other cookbook authors would be happy to end theirs. Along with its lucid and informative text, The Cuisine of Armenia showcases a dazzling collection of flavor-packed recipes ranging from the traditional to the unusual, from the rustic to the sophisticated. The following is just a small sampling of my favorites: Filo Pastry Boeregs with Cheese Filling (the last bite always comes too soon!); Mussels Stuffed with Rice, Pine Nuts, and Currants (will make a dedicated mussel lover out of anyone); Red Pepper and Walnut Dip with Pomegranate (excellent served as an appetizer or as an accompaniment to grilled fish, poultry, or meat); Meat and Egg Rolls (a perfect picnic or buffet dish); Meat Soup with Vegetables and Herbs (Echmiadzin Bozbash) (if you can't make it to Echmiadzin, try this); Dumplings in Yogurt or Tomato Broth (Mantabour) (guaranteed to brighten a dreary winter day); Fruit Paste Dipped in Egg (delightfully original); Oysters in Tomato Wine Sauce (excellent and uncomplicated); Spitted Trout with Tarragon and Pomegranate (simple though hardly commonplace); Roast Chicken with Apricot and Chestnut Stuffing (splendid! Uvezian's own creation); Roast Turkey with Cinnamon-Glazed Apples (easy to make and impressive to serve); Broiled Skewered Pork with Pomegranate Syrup (one of the glories of Caucasian Armenian cooking); Harput Keufteh (deservedly famous and well worth the effort); Keufteh in Yogurt Sauce (a real winner that shouldn't be missed); Apples and Quinces Stuffed with Meat and Rice (Ashtarak Dolma) (a transcendant experience!); Baked Pumpkin Stuffed with Rice, Raisins, Prunes, and Apples (truly enchanting!); Saffron Rice Pilaf with Toasted Almonds and Sesame Seeds (elegant!); Fried Eggplant and Tomato Slices with Garlic Yogurt Sauce (a superb combination); and Yogurt Cream (another great Uvezian invention). Also, all of the savory pastries, pastas, breads, and desserts I have tried are knockouts. After countless memorable meals resulting from Uvezian's remarkably clear recipes, I can say with certainty that I was correct in my original assessment of this work. The Cuisine of Armenia is indeed a very great accomplishment. I should mention, however, that Uvezian's latest cookbook, Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen, is an even greater achievement. In addition to hundreds of fabulous recipes from Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan, it contains a number of magnificent Armenian ones not found in The Cuisine of Armenia. The book also provides fascinating information on the important contributions Armenians have made to the cultural and economic life of the region, something that has been largely ignored by other food writers. For example, I was surprised to learn of the significant role Armenians have played in the culinary life of Aleppo, where the wheat and flour trades as well as the baking and sale of bread and pastry were virtually monopolized by them for nearly three centuries. The author further informs us that the city's world-famous Baron Hotel, whose dining room once featured wild boar, pheasant, and caviar, has been owned and operated by an Armenian family ever since it was built in 1909. The Cuisine of Armenia and Recipes and Remembrances from an Eastern Mediterranean Kitchen are masterly volumes that belong in the library of every serious food lover, Armenian and non-Armenian alike. I treasure them both and would give them six stars if I could. Highly, highly recommended!