The first time I met Marian Amiraian, she tricked me. She invited me to her home for lunch. After a satisfying meal, she served not one, but two delicious desserts.
The first was a blueberry and gelatin concoction that was both tasty and refreshing on that hot summer day. Next, she brought out a dish of lusciously ripe strawberries, a bowl of water, and a small plate of powdered sugar.
I’d never seen strawberries served this way before, so I watched Marion. First, she dipped the berry in the water, then lightly coated it with the powdered sugar. After her first bite, she licked her lips and grinned.
My turn. Dip, coat, bite.
Whoa! That clear liquid wasn’t water! Marian was laughing, and no wonder. The liquid was Sambuca, an Italian liqueur that tastes like black licorice. What a surprise to my taste buds!
I have to admit, I was impressed.
Stop, just one minute – where did Marian get this dessert idea? It’s not an Armenian dessert, or is it? I simply had to know. Marian’s daughter, Anahid, taught it to her, so she wanted me to try it, too. Anahid is blessed with a culinary flair.
While I was re-reading a book this summer, The Song of America, by George Mardikian, I was surprised when I came to the part where he wrote that for special occasions he would serve guests strawberries dipped in champagne, then in powdered sugar. Mr. Mardikian was the owner of the famous Omar Khayyam restaurant in San Francisco, back in the day. Perhaps Marian’s daughter read Mardikian’s book, too. It doesn’t matter how she came up with the idea – it’s a winner!
Want to make the dessert more Armenian? Try dipping the strawberries in Arak for that uniquely Armenian taste.