From earlier times, the Armenian settlers had adopted and later developed an agrarian way of life that led to the creation of mouth watering traditional and national dishes. The different varieties of grapes and apricots that grow in Armenia have made it possible for the production of wines and spirits. Dairy products and breads have been a staple in the Armenian culinary world.
If you ask the people of this hospitable country which is the important in their national cuisine they will most likely answer the feast. Armenian Cuisine is as ancient as its history, as the land it is standing on. Armenian culinary traditions are over 2000 years old. The cuisine reflects the history and geography where Armenians have lived as well as incorporating outside influences. It is a combination of different tastes and aromas. Armenian cuisine includes the foods/cooking techniques of the Armenian People and the Armenian Diaspora.
Many regional recipes include additional local herbs whose use is almost completely forgotten today in the Diaspora. The abundance of meat on Armenian tables is the result of the most ancient development of cattle breeding in Armenian uplands which led to such a variety of livestock and poultry. A cattle breeding was also the source of various dairy products – basically brine-ripened cheeses as well as sour-milk products which serve as the basis for traditional Armenian dishes and beverages. Early beginning of agriculture in the fertile valleys of Armenia caused the application of various cereals in Armenian cuisine – spelt, millet, barley, wheat, rice; beans – string beans, beans, lentil, mountain peas to say nothing of great variety of vegetables and greens which are a must of Armenian feast.
Armenian Cuisine resembles a poetry where each verse has its own flavor. It guides us to the feasts of the rulers, the shepherds and the monks, enriched with the ancient Hellenistic and Middle Eastern receipts. Many Armenian dishes have been adopted by Persians, Turks and Arabs. The essence of the Armenian cuisine is in its myriads of big and small secrets. Poems were written about it and got an epic reflection. Various herbs, fish, meat, dairy, bread, salt and spring water combined with the art of cooking give the Armenian Cuisine its subtle and unique taste. Cheese, herbs and lavash (traditional bread) are the indispensable components of the Armenian table.
Every Armenian longs for the traditional bread lavash in any part of the world. Armenians use lavash to warp herbs, cheese, khorovats and other kinds of food. Alexander Dumas was very impressed with the Armenian khorovats (BBQ) during his trip to Caucasus. He was recommending his French friends to taste it. From ancient times Armenian Cuisine is famous for its fish dishes. Rivers and lakes of Armenia are rich in fish. Lake Sevan is especially known for its variety – ishkhan, bakhtak, sig, beghlu, koghak. Armenia is famous for its fruit – pomegranates, apricots, grapes, peaches, pears and figs. All these features make Armenian dishes unique, unrivaled, delicious and fragrant – a real treat for any gourmet and connoisseur of true culinary traditions.
Armenia is also famous for its mineral waters, brandy and wine (today you may try not only wide range of Armenian grape wines but also very tasteful pomegranate wine). In particular, Armenian cognac is renowned worldwide, and was considered by the late British Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, as his favorite. Armenia is a country with magnificent climatic conditions, rich in pure springs and mineral waters, favorable for cultivation of different grades of grapes. According to the Bible, after a great flood, Noy has gone down from the ark from top of mountain Ararat in Armenia and has planted the first grapevine. Thereby the first viticulture started in Armenia.
Many researchers agree that wine for the first time has been made on Caucasus in region known as “the Armenian Plateau”, in Armenia. This fact has been confirmed in 1895 by the application of the founder of the theory of evolution – Charles Darwin. Since ancient days Armenia was famous for the wine makers where original traditions were kept until this day. It is possible to learn about this even from works of such philosophers, as Herodot and Strabon.
In 401-400 B.C., when the Greek armies led by Ksenophon “were passed” on the country Nairi (one of the most ancient names of Armenia), in the Armenian houses they were treated with wine and beer which was kept in deep dugouts in special “karases”. It’s interesting, that in karases with beer have been inserted reeds which served for our ancestors as saltcellars. Carried out by academic Pyatrovski at 19-20 centuries archeological excavations have confirmed the fact, that else in the ninth century B.C.Armenia was developed as wine-making state. .
Archeologists have found out in fortress Teyshebaini wine storehouse with 480 karases, in which could makespace for 37 thousand decalitres of wine. During excavation in Karmir Blur (one of the most ancient settlements of Armenia where first attributes of life are found out a little thousand years ago) and Erebouni (city-fortress in territory of present Yerevan, build 2800 years ago and become in 2700 the capital of Armenia) had been found 10 wine storehouses in which were 200 karases. Still ancestors of Armenians – inhabitants of one of the most ancient states of the world – Urartu, were engaged in wine growing. In historian certificates, that in thus one of the most ancient states in the world the special attention was given development of wine growing and fruit growing were kept. Often in the historical data which have reached to us manufacturing techniques of wine and beer are mentioned.