Sunday, June 11, 2006

Gretaaaa…. Jan, Where Oh Where Can You Be?

Our search for stories about Armenian food eventually took us to the Matenadaran, Yerevan’s national repository of ancient manuscripts. We weren’t particularly keen on searching through such rare tomes on our own. After all, the books, manuscripts, and miniatures at the Matenadaran are priceless, historic treasures of Armenian history. We were determined to locate a specialist whose academic interests also included food culture, someone to guide us in our research.

“Do you know anyone who can assist us in finding references to cuisine in the ancient Armenian texts?” we asked.

First person: “What? OK. Go straight, then turn right. There is a man there. He may know. He knows everything,” was the reply, accompanied with raised eyebrows.

Second person: “About food? Oh, yes, we had a researcher named Greta. She was interested in ancient Armenian recipes. She even published something about her findings from ancient manuscripts.”

Now we got excited. “How can we contact her?” we inquired.

“She is gone, went to Los Angeles.” He pointed with his hand, imitating the flight of an airplane.

“Do you know her address in Los?” we asked.

“Go to the Ethnography Institute on Charents Street, and ask for Rhipsik. She used to be Greta’s friend. She will know all about her.”

Third person, at the Ethnography Institute: “Rhipsik’s isn’t here right now. You could check with Nelli, who’s her friend. Nelli’s the one who can tell you where to find Rhipsik.”

Unfortunately for us, Nelli was also out of town. But we got a lead on an acquaintance of Nelli, who might know when she would be back.

At this point, we threw up our hands and wearily quit our Sherlock Holmes efforts. Discouraged but still determined, we retreated by metro and marshrutka back to our apartment. The next day, we would have to do our own careful searching in the library catalogs.

So, Dear Greta in Los Angeles, wherever you are, we heard that you made some very interesting findings about the food culture of ancient Armenia. If you ever read our blog or book, please contact us. We still want to review your research findings. Friends or friends-of-friends of Greta need not reply. By the way, the folks from the Matenadaran asked us to pass on their warm greetings, if we ever find you.


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