My Armenian-Italian Family Cookbook

A collection of recipes and traditions

Christina Hagopian  /   Mar 21, 2017  in  Work / Life     12

family + culture

Coming from a family rich in culture, with an Armenian father and an Italian mother, my fondest memories growing up were centered around meal-time. Every evening was a celebration – a family affair meant to be shared. We gathered around glorious feasts prepared by my mom, talking and arguing about daily activities. We rolled our eyes when my mother ran out of dinner ideas and experimented with a new “concoction”. But it was always comforting food – food when eaten alone does not taste the same. Every visit with our grandmothers included family favorites including Armenian grape leaves, shish kebab, pilaf and beoregs or Italian pasta and gravy, meatballs and manicotti. And every holiday included favorite dishes and flavors attached. I can not remember a Christmas afternoon without hours around the antipasto table watching football, or a Thanksgiving dinner without my mom’s bubbling apple pie and whipped cream. They were constants, and we looked forward to them year after year.

Honoring my grandmother, Marie Hagopian.
Dolma, an Armenian tradition.
Bringing the two sides of the family together.


I began documenting our family’s recipes over 20 years ago in order to record and preserve our culinary history for me, and my two siblings. The idea for the book started shortly after our Grandma Hagopian passed away in 1995. Some recipes were lost because she did not often write details down. We realized how important her cooking was in our lives and the memories attached to her meals. Her recipes and cooking secrets were passed down from generations verbally and I had a difficult time collecting everything. A “dash” and a “pinch” were the quantities for most measurements. “Season to taste” was a common phrase throughout. It was an arduous task, but I greatly enjoyed the research process digging through discolored note cards and books with my grandmother’s scribbles on them. It also gave me a chance to correspond with family members and friends and reminisce about meals shared together.

I started and stopped the project countless times, overwhelmed by both the magnitude of the job, the heavy emotions it stirred, and my perfectionism. Six months ago I vowed to begin again and finish by Christmas. I didn’t tell anyone in my family, but quietly asked my aunt and cousins to help gather photos. My first manuscript (almost 200 pages!) is done after many sleepless nights. I surprised everyone with the prototype this Christmas morning. The book still needs additional testing, editing and indexing, but I’m thrilled to present the first edition to share.

Each side of the book is intended to honor my two grandmothers’ legacy and I’m thankful for the opportunity to share and revise together. I hope the recipes and memories capture a fraction of the love I felt from their food.


If you enjoy Armenian or Italian cooking, please feel free to download, use and send feedback. The next edit will be available in hardback by summer.


Memories of my Italian grandma’s Christmas cookie tradition, passed down by my mother, Francine.

My dad’s photos from Soviet Armenia, 1978.

N.B. The photos of Armenia are special images captured by my father on a Smithsonian trip to Soviet Armenia in 1978. I converted his slides digitally to restore their magnificence. I wish he was still alive to see them in print.

Christina Hagopian

Creative Director and President Christina Hagopian is known for her hands-on, approachable and meticulous approach, becoming a trusted resource to her clients, collaborators and contemporaries since launching Hagopian Ink in 2002.Christina holds a BFA in Communication Design from Carnegie Mellon University. With 20 years of experience, Christina is an active and well-respected contributor to the New York City design and entrepreneur communities.

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  • Michael Bendit /

    Thank you Christina for sharing your rich family tradition presented so beautifully. I can’t wait to try some of your family recipes.

  • Christina Hagopian /

    Thank you for your kind words, Michael! I would love for you to try the recipes and receive your feedback.

  • Alexia Kolias /

    This project is a wonder, as are you! Thank you for sharing this gorgeous collection of family and love and for all the energy and creativity you put into it.

  • Dan Boyarski /

    What lovely books and lovely memories! Congratulations, Christina.

    Glancing at the few spreads above, I thought that Karen Moyer would be proud of your typography on the recipes!

    • Christina Hagopian /

      Thank you so much, Dan. Karen’s lessons in typography have taken me through my design career. I’m forever thankful to you and the entire CMU faculty for all your guidance.

  • Tina Bianchi /

    Christina..I’m blown away by these two beautifully created and illustrated recipe books. Just your tender memories of your family history and the great recipes you have researched, are a testament to who you are…a beautiful and talented woman. I hope you don’t mind, but I would love to have them when you put them out there.. obviously Mom is very proud of your work…she let me have a little of her joy😊Mrs. B.

    • Christina Hagopian /

      Thank you so much, Mrs. B! Your lemon chicken recipe made it in too! So many good memories. Yes, of course. I will be sure you receive a copy as soon as we publish. Love to you and the entire Bianchi family.

  • Bob Walker /

    Lovely concept… I have the same upbringing but in reverse – Armenian mother (Aurslanian-Arakelian) and English father. Always lots of Dolma, lamb kebabs, and paklava. My grandparents fled the genocide, and we became a true American story. I have relatives who have made a pilgrimage to eastern Turkey, where all of the old Christian churches (as in your photo) have been turned into mosques.

    Much success with the cookbook – available where?!

    • Christina Hagopian /

      Thanks for your kind message, Bob. My grandparents were also genocide survivors and never returned to Armenia and Turkey in their lifetime. We are going through a final edit and indexing now and will have the book ready for purchase on by Christmas. I will be sure to send you a link once it is ready. Thanks again!

  • Ned Boyajian /

    Beautiful layout and photography … and the food looks so delicious! Just a couple of weeks ago, I had lunch with my 94-year-old Armenian aunt, hosted by our 90-year-old cousin (over a big plate of her homemade lula kebob) and it came up how similar Italian and Armenian dishes are in many ways. Now here is your book, proving it!

    • Christina Hagopian /

      Thank you, Ned! I hope the book brings both cultures together in many ways. And there is nothing better than homemade kebob. SO GOOD!

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