Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Food in Armenia

One of my favorite things about traveling is the food.  Let's be honest.  Food is one of my favorite things about life.

I love to try new foods and am up to try pretty much anything.  After having visited over 60 countries, though, it's becoming harder and harder to find new taste treats.  Armenia has served me well.  From mulberries to fruit lavash, my taste buds have found a new home.  Here are some photos of our trip to the market in Yerevan yesterday.

Denise and Otis swore that their color coordinated outfits were not planned.  I'm not buying it.  They're standing in front of the fountain which is at the entrance to the subway.  Sadly, it is no longer operational.  After the dissolution of the USSR, Armenia (and other places) was left with little infrastructure.  Many parks, fountains, factories, etc. have still not been restored.  The progress made in the last 20 years is a testament to the strength and determination of the Armenian people.

The entrance to the subway has a bit of a Mad Max/end of the world feel to it, but the subway itself is clean, efficient and only 25 cents a ride.

First sight when entering the market.  Dried fruit plates.  Decorative and completely edible, they're offered to guests with coffee.

These are the fruit juice covered strings of nuts I first tasted at the art/craft market on Sunday.  America - we need these!

One of the tragic side effects of the conflict in Syria is the number of refugees seeking asylum in Armenia.  The bright side?  One Syrian family started this spice/olive/etc. business at the market.  Best hummus in Yerevan.

Spices!  Cheap and fresh.  Want some fresh saffron from Iran?  Yup, we got it.

Olives are popular and inexpensive here.  I bought a quarter kilo of the small green ones on the right.

Fruit!  It's only May, so most fruits aren't ready for harvest yet.  This is some of what is available - some local, some imported.

I was taking a photo of these beautifully displayed local cherries when a vendor wanted to literally get in the picture.  For effect, he snagged a cherry from the top.  The vendor who owned and had just stacked the cherries gave him a cheerful telling off.  Laughs all around.  It was early (for Yerevan) and we were among the few shoppers.  Vendors smiled, chatted with Denise and Otis in Armenian and I just smiled.

The man in the middle sells the dried fruit/nut mixture that I love.  He gave us samples of EVERYTHING he sold.  Otis goes to him regularly.  Denise and the female vendor from a nearby stall were using the dictionary to help with translation.  She was every bit as interested in learning English and about us and we were to learn Armenian and about her.  It's a friendly, safe place.

Another view of the dried fruit plates.  Amazing.  No sugar/preservatives added.  All edible.

We bought zucchini, garlic and some other stuff from this lady who sells to Otis regularly.  She was so pleased to have her photo taken with him.  There aren't many black folks in Yerevan and he still gets strangers asking to have their photo taken with him.  They also don't see a lot of natural blondes, so the two of us walking together get stares.  Just like Peace Corps.

The market is about 5 times the size of the Apia market and offers fresh meat, sausages and dried meat and fish, fresh fruit and produce, cheese and bread.  One stop shopping and more free samples than Costco!

Lavash is the staple bread.  It is thin and comes in a variety of textures. It is similar to a tortilla and delicious.  I asked to take this woman's photo and she was pleased to oblige.  Her neighbor asked me "German?"  I said "No, American."  She seemed a bit disappointed.  Wish I could have explained in Armenian that while I was born in America, my genes are from Germany.

I'm not much of a beer drinker, but had to try the local brew.  Served with a frosty mug it was cold and tasty.  A bit heavier than typical American beer.

Yuck.  Yet another PDA.  Young love.

My chicken schwarma lunch.  That's grilled chicken, herbs and pickled veg wrapped in lavash.  $1.75

Breakfast this morning.  So sweet, so delicious, so fattening.

I can't remember which fruit this is made from but he called it the Snickers.  It tastes just like a Snickers bar.

The tomato, stuffed with nuts and dried fruit.  I hate fruit cake but I could eat this stuff all day long.  Or until I went into a diabetic coma.

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