Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sparkle to My Eyes!

The book is born. Sparkle to my eyes!

After almost 3 years of work, our book is published. Since no Armenian is nearby here in the hills of southern Indiana to give me a traditional achkaluis (an expression literally meaning light or sparkle to your eyes, uttered on hearing good news), I am telling myself achkaluis!

Hours of writing, rewriting, struggling with photographs, talking, waiting, asking, reasking, checking and rechecking. OK, enough of exaggerating our painstaking efforts ... after all that, my co-author husband and I can finally see the book listed on Amazon.com, and we can see the first few hits as readers start to buy it.

If books.google.com ever gets updated again, you'll be able to search select pages of the book. But don't hold your breath waiting for them. I'm told it may take months. SIGH! There is a preview that actually works online at
www.Lulu.com/Armenia that includes the table of contents, our introduction, the tzhvzhik (liver-and-onions) chapter, and, finally, the book's index.

The book is ARMENIAN FOOD: FACT, FICTION & FOLKLORE, ISBN 1411698659, and it's about the culture and cuisine of Hayastan, as Armenians call their country. Our book tells the story of Armenian culture, its history, its folklore, its myths and legends, and, of course, its delicious food. If you're interested in Armenia or international cuisine, please check it out. No, it's not a cookbook, but, yes, it's got a few recipes in it. We reluctantly put those in because readers of the first edition, published in Armenia, kept asking us to do so. We had no intention of producing a cookbook because there are already so many good Armenian cookbooks in print. In fact, they're so numerous that we included a 2-page-long index listing of as many as we could identify.

So why are we doing a blog? Are we such blowhards that we can't stop writing about the subject? Well, maybe so. The path was so blissful that even the idea of reaching our destination is sacrilegious. Actually, we want to have a good forum for our readers, and blogs are great for that. Since the book just went on sale, we're hungry for feedback, good or bad, but hopefully not too flamingly bad. And, as happens in so many big projects that span years of effort, we've got lots of material that is interesting and entertaining, but just didn't make the cut when we wrote our book. Plus, it's a chance for us to tell the story about the making of ARMENIAN FOOD: FACT, FICTION & FOLKLORE, how we wrote it, where we went, and how we survived it all! It's kind of a free bonus for those who bought our book and, hopefully, an alluring device for those who are considering it. And even if you don't buy it, maybe you'll find our blog interesting and, hopefully, amusing. Laugh all you want. We don't mind. After writing this book, we can take anything in good stride.

We had many strange adventures, made some remarkable discoveries, and suffered a disappointment or two as we researched and wrote the book. And we met lots of wonderful people in Armenia, and quite a few colorful characters, too.

Our homebase while we were creating the book was Vanadzor, my original hometown, located in the northern, mountainous Lori province of Armenia. I had lived in Moscow for many years, and in Yerevan, Armenia's capital city, after that. Then I lived in the United States for awhile. So, going back to Vanadzor was a true homecoming for me. And during our almost-a-year in Armenia, we travelled all over the country collecting information for the book.

David, my husband and co-author, liked staying in Armenia, even though he sometimes yearned to hear spoken English now and then. He will also be posting to this blog. David is from the hilly woodlands of south-central Indiana, and even though he's travelled across most of the US, visiting Armenia and later living in Armenia was a profound experience for him. One of his life-long dreams was to visit and see the Soviet Union. He never suspected he would one day fulfill his curiosity, even though the USSR had ceased to exist by the time that he finally made his visits. David's also a skilled computer engineer, and my family was rather surprised when he set up a small computer network on our work table at home, dubbed "The Book Factory".

Ronnie, our then-three-year-old son, had been staying with my family for awhile before we arrived. There he was learning to speak Armenian, eating good, healthy Armenian food, and generally becoming a little Hayastantsi! He, too, helped us with the book project. More about that later.

Sarik Simonian comes to mind as one of the most colorful characters out of many that we met when we were working on our book. He was one of those Armenian men who does not have a formal education but, as Armenians say, "Everything comes out of his hands." He's extremely skillful, a great guy, and a terrific friend.

Sarik is a master of the grill, a champion of the barbecue, and we included some of his barbecue secrets and know-how in our book.

You can read about our photo-and-khorovats session with Sarik in our next blog post. Don't miss "Sexy Sarik and Armenian Khorovats Barbecue".

Irina Petrosian

P.S. Here's a review of the first, published-in-Armenia edition of ARMENIAN FOOD: FACT, FICTION & FOLKLORE, from the leading online news site, www.ArmeniaNow.com:


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Armenian Food is the best food ever.
i love it and will always love it.

1:44 AM  
Blogger Artak said...

Great book.

In addition to great recipes it also has lots of fun background and cultural information.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was recently introduced to all things armenian and i must say i absolutely love Armenian food. The meat, the bread and the desserts are all wonderful.. I shall be ordering this book!

1:08 AM  

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