An Armenian Christmas Family Tradition is Born

At the end of last December, after recovering from the joy and of hosting Christmas with family and friends, I received a most-interesting request from recently wed Lindsay Peckham of Weymouth, MA.

Lindsay, grandmother Rencie, and husband Jay Peckham

Lindsay wrote:
“I just recently came upon your blog and couldn’t be happier!  My paternal grandmother is half Armenian which only makes me a small percentage, but since I was very young I have always had an interest in everything Armenian!  I guess you could say I feel more Armenian than I actually am!  Every year – since before I was born – my family has had an Armenian cook-out where we indulge in all the wonderful Armenian food.  A few years ago my grandmother taught me how to make kourabia and now I have turned it into my own Christmas tradition making it for family and friends.  The reason for my email…besides telling you how much I appreciate your great blog…is to ask for some advice.  I know that Armenian Christmas is on January 6th.  My family has never done anything on that day, but now that I am married I was thinking that it would be nice to start my own tradition.  I would like to host a small Armenian brunch that weekend and hopefully it will become an annual event.  Do you have any suggestions of some things I could make for this occasion?  We have a small apartment and an even smaller kitchen (literally no counter space)!  I’d like to make a few different things, but since I have limited space, nothing overly complicated.  Any suggestions or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated!  I look forward to reading more of your blog and trying out some of the many recipes.”

I love requests like this!
Lindsay mentioned that her family gathering was to take place on Sunday, January 8th so, I put on my thinking cap, poured myself a steaming cup of mint tea, and gave it some thought. I had to keep in mind her key points – recently married, starting her own annual family tradition, Armenian Christmas brunch, small kitchen, no counter space, nothing complicated.
My suggestions included: a mezza platter with basturma, string cheese, pita bread; nevik , parsley- onions- and -eggs, and few other favorites. You know me, I had to ask Lindsay if she would share her result with us.

On the evening of January 8th, after her guests had gone, Lindsay filled me in on her gathering:
“ After consulting your blog and hearing your feedback I decided to make the Pomegranate and Pear Salad, Cheese Beoreg (my grandmother’s recipe which uses muenster cheese ), Parsley- Onion- Eggs (which I scrambled), Armenian Walnut Cake (it was very simple to make), and Kourabia (I used my grandmother’s recipe which is a family recipe, and one of my favorite things to make. Plus, making these cookies really makes me feel connected with my Armenian side. And my husband who is not Armenian at all LOVES them!). In addition, I bought some bastourma, Armenian string cheese, and pita bread. My father also brought some homemade lahmejune which we cut into smaller portions, so everyone could try it. “

Mezza Platter

Grandmother Rencie’s Kourabia cookies

Pomegranate and Pear Salad

Lindsay began her food preparation on the Thursday before the event, carefully planning her work-strategy. With hard work and great determination, her first-annual Armenian Christmas brunch was ready in time for her guests’ arrival.

The Final Outcome:

“The Armenian Christmas brunch was a great success! When my parents and grandmother, Rencie, showed up they were really impressed! I’ve never been much of a cook, so seeing how much (food) I made was quite a shock. While everything was a huge hit, I think the most talked about item was the Pomegranate and Pear salad. Not only was it colorful, but the mint and lime gave it such a great taste. Absolutely delicious! The string cheese was also good. My father, grandmother, and I had never had it before. I can definitely see how that could make a good snack item! It was so much fun pulling it apart! My sister-in-law and her husband and my brother-in-law were also in attendance. I was thrilled that they tried and liked everything. I’m looking forward to when my husband Jay and I have a bigger place and can invite more of our family and friends. But, this will definitely be an annual tradition no matter where we live!”

The Armenian Kitchen is honored to have had a small part in the establishment of the Peckham Family’s annual Armenian Christmas tradition. Thanks, Lindsay, for this opportunity, and for allowing us to share your first-ever Armenian Christmas event!

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