I started dating my husband in 1995. He was tall, dark and handsome and had a funny surname. I also knew he was adorable, with excellent taste in music and ultimately that he was my soulmate. The fact that he was half Armenian mattered not a jot. I just didn’t and don’t like his (now our) surname, no one can say it or spell it correctly and it just marks us out as a little bit different.
He wasn’t brought up in a household teeming with Armenian culture. His father would take him to his church and out for the occasional traditional meal but that was pretty much as far as it went.
When we got married, I was keen that he try and keep some of the ties to his Armenian roots. His heritage is now our heritage and that of our son. Knowing that the way to his heart is through his stomach, and that our son shares similar culinary tastes, we have regular Armenian nights where I cook from an amazing cookbook called The Armenian Table by Victoria Jenanyan-Wise, which I treated myself to a few years ago.
It’s a brilliant cookbook which I probably would’ve loved anyway. Armenian food is similar to Greek, Turkish and Persian cuisine. Big hits from the Armenian cook book include lamb kufta, Armenian salads, stuffed aubergines and Armenian pilaf rice. I did mean to cook up a meal for this blog but time ran away from me. I have blogged one of our favourite Armenian dishes here.
It is important to us that our son understands his heritage and what a contrast his lucky first world life is compared to the hardships faced by large numbers of Armenian families. We send packages of warm clothing and essentials to needy families via Oxfam and it’s important that as a family we are all involved in that process.
In Manchester we are lucky enough to have access to the Armenian church and the wonderful friends within it. It is a vital connection to the past. We also regularly visit the Armenian Taverna in the city centre for meals and we love (seriously love) Armenique which is a fantastic deli in Gatley which we go to often (do try it, it is amazing).
Apart from our challenging surname, I do enjoy being part of a slightly multicultural family. It seems that all of our friends families are made up from descendants of first, second and third generation immigrants from all over the world. So I don’t feel any different to anyone else we know. Apart from the name.