A great email arrived the other day from reader Tom Merjanian, who was nice enough to relay a few kind words about this site and to take the time to share some Armenian names for recipes we’ve posted.
As you know from a recent post on the topic, we’re in a bit of a quandary when it comes to such things. We don’t speak Armenian, and even friends and relatives who do speak Armenian often mix-in Turkish, Greek, Persian or Russian food terms.
Tom is among those who feel strongly that Armenian food is best tasted with the mother tongue, and he is particularly averse to using Turkish names.
“Since these people still will not admit to the world to their heinous crime, I avoid using their language as much as possible,” he wrote.
For example, he notes that we call pickled vegetables tourshou, which is Turkish.
“Pickles in Armenian is TUTVASH. The root word is tutu or tutoo …meaning sour. Assortment of pickles – TUTVEGHEN.”
He contiued: “Sarma? Oh, No! PATTOTZ. Pattel is to wrap. The suffix ‘otz’ indicates ‘the place in which something occurs.’ Dolma? Oh, no! LITZK or LEETZK. The verb is ‘letzunel’ meaning to fill. The ‘K’ suffix is the ancient Armenian (Krapar) plural suffix.”
Tom, thanks for the Armenian lesson!
He promises to send more as examples arise, and we welcome the contribution and applaud the effort.
Meanwhile, we’ll also continue using common terms of whatever origin because we think they’re what many of you also use and recognize.
As I’ve written before, we try hard to keep politics out of the kitchen. But Tom raises an issue that Armenians feel strongly about, although we sometimes differ on how best to achieve our goals.
Strictly my opinion: I feel as passionately about The Genocide as anyone, but my quarrel is with the Turkish government and its allies in politics and business (shame on you, Chevron) who continue to deny history.
I have no quarrel with Turkish people, however, and no objection to Turkish food or the Turkish language.
As I said, strictly my opinion.
What do you think? — Doug Kalajian