let the record state

My mother still calls Saint Petersburg “Leningrad.” With a hard “r.”


It’s 2012.

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well, this is slightly uncomfortable

I don’t even…I can’t …oh.

According to the Atlantic, the country of Armenia ranks third (behind the US and Oman, of all places) in unsafe internet usage.  Though the findings don’t outright spell out what it is that Armenian net-surfers are seeking, it heavily implies the result of the ranking as a product of a never-ending quest for adult content online.

Please note that the picture accompanying the article is of young boys on the computer, monitored by adults in suits; appropriate move, Atlantic.

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break count: two

So, I’m sorta clumsy.

While walking back to the dinner table last night, my plate somehow slipped out of my hand, crashed onto the ground & shattered, scattering bits of porcelain everywhere.  The dog, needless to say, went straight for the steak.

Later that night, while decorating the tree, an ornament loosened itself from my grasp, fell again to the floor, and broke in a million glittering pieces.

At this point, my mother shrieked: “shad plav es kere!” (translation: you’ve eaten too much rice.)

I felt it necessary to gently suggest maybe she’d lost her mind, since we had pasta, not rice, at dinner, none of which I’d even touched.  Then she explained herself.

Armenians dump nearly three sticks of butter in each batch (?) of rice, so the stuff becomes extremely slippery. The logic of the phrase requires that people apparently eat with their hands. Thus, a bastardized, and extremely roundabout way of calling someone (ex: me) ‘butter fingers’.

I don’t mind.

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found object: mall parking lot


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turkey day

Yes, I realize this is slightly overdue.  Yes, the end of my semester did indeed coincide with one of the more time-consuming holidays of the year.  Yes, I did spend two entire days in the kitchen, shuffling things in the oven and preparing sauces through dessert.

And no, I didn’t get to eat most of it due to a certain adorable three year old flinging everything off my plate.

So, when my family hosts Thanksgiving, there’s always this great debate.  [If I weren’t around, it would be more of a non-issue, but since I seem to be the voice of reason, the voice that calls attention to their ludacrosity (fact: not a word), there is indeed a great debate.]  And what about?

The inclusion of traditional Armenian/Persian/Middle Eastern/whoknowswhatfromwhere fare in the Thanksgiving spread.

In the past years, we’ve plated mountains of rice next to buckets of mashed potatoes, ladled lamb stew over slices of turkey (to ‘fix’ the alleged ‘dryness’), nibbled on barbari or lavash instead of biscuits, ruled gravy obsolete, somehow found a way to incorporate pomegranate seeds (in martinis, in soup. truth.) and always set the sumac shaker out with the salt & pepper.

This year, the thought of all those smells mingling together, all those textures – goopy, solid, stringy, viscous, green (if you’ve had ghormeh sabzi, you know what i’m talking about) – together on one plate, was enough for me to propose a change.  If I was going to make mustard-coated brussel sprouts, crispy smashed potatoes, a beet & arugula salad, roasted root veggies, and apple dumplings, there was to be none of that other delicious food, competing for the 20+ guests’ attention.

Dad, 7:43:10 PM, Tuesday, menu review meeting, from the nearby kitchen: BUT I LIKE TO EAT WHAT I LIKE TO EAT.

Me, 7:43:50 PM, Tuesday, menu review meeting, lost in a sea of Bon Appetit mags on the couch: YOU EAT WHAT YOU WANT TO EAT 364 DAYS OUT OF THE YEAR.

Our compromise? A smaller-than-usual plate of buttered rice, this minty pomegranate soup my grandma made which transported a few older attendees – with tears in their eyes – right back to 1960’s Iran, and a yum sour cherry tart, c/o my aunt.

We’re invited elsewhere for Christmas, but somehow I get the feeling that heaping plates of rice will follow me there as well.

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in the ravine

Last night, my cousin from Orange County & I were extras on a spec commercial set, bribed into the volunteer work by one thing, and one thing only: the promise of catered Zankou Chicken for ‘lunch’ (aka late-late-late dinner).

We suffered through unexpected downpours, a low of 49°, temperamental sprinklers and many takes ruined by uncontrollable laughter, all for the sake of the danky Zanks.

After the much-anticipated call of “that’s a wrap!” we ran to my car.  As I settled in, an all-too-familiar smell wafted in my direction.

My cousin, who’d inexplicably never tasted this particular deliciousness before, was hoarding packets of garlic sauce & baggies of pita in the back seat of my car.  4AM meant I was too tired to point out the thievery to her, but as I navigated us out of the steep, rocky hillside, she muttered: “it’s not my fault I don’t live in guh-lehn-dehll and have access to this stuff every day.”

I would’ve protested the implication that I maybe consume inhuman amounts of shwarma, but the only reason I could walk away from the leftovers on the crafts table was knowing the place of rotisserie chicken & crispy falafel was just down the street.

PS. In perusing the eatery’s website – for research, not to memorize the menu or anything weird like that – I stumbled across the origin of the moniker assigned to the place: Zankou is apparently a river in Armenia (fact verified by a curt ‘yeh’ from my mother).

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Last night, at the PEN Literary Awards Fest, between refills of chardonnay & a hilarious speech by John Krasinski, the announcement for the UC Press Exceptional First Book award caught my ear.

An -IAN! won an award!

Sebouh David Aslanian, who wrote From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfa, a book about Armenian merchants…engaging in trade…globally…in the 17th &18th centuries, made a funny while delivering his acceptance speech: The acknowledgments might be the most interesting part of this book.

Despite the jest about the tome’s academic nature, it’s been a while since I’ve brushed up on any type of cultural history (aside from my grandmothers’ anecdotes), so I think I’ll tackle the 200+ pages, which include pretty pictures & even some passages in the native language.

Should I do a book review when I’m done? I’ll do a book review.

swag bag

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