Fresh Ink

March 21, 2017
Author: Christina Hagopian

My Armenian-Italian Family Cookbook

A collection of recipes and traditions

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.

FOOD AS HISTORY

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.

DOWNLOAD

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.

Download HAGOPIAN REPOLE COOKBOOK

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

CookbookCookbook
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.