Parsley. The smell of it immediately sends me back to my grandmother’s apartment in East Toronto. No matter what was for dinner, she always had parsley dotting her outstretched hands as she greeted me with loving embraces.
The magnificent food
This blog is my modest journey to recreate my grandmother’s magnificent dishes to share with you and my family. Tangy yogurt soup with mint and ‘mante’ dumplings, deliciously seasoned kebab skewers, generously meaty lahmajoun with squeezed lemon, crispy cheese boereg with tabulé and zesty eetch kofte….just to name a few! I’m obsessed with food and food photography, and I know some of these dishes can be time consuming to make! I will break steps down in a way that will help you learn from my trials and errors.
My grandmother passed away in 2006 and I miss her everyday. We called her “Melma” because “Medz mamma” (grandmother in Armenian) was a mouthful for her Canadian grandchildren. Melma spoiled us with unconditional love and generosity—while raising us with the strength, resilience and wisdom that could only come from a survivor of trauma and genocide.
Her home was my escape— where I went to hear advice and stories of unimaginable hardships and incredible resilience and strength. Like so many other Armenians, my grandmother survived the genocide and systematic killing of our people which was started by Ottoman government authorities in 1914. My grandmother’s family went into hiding soon after her father, who was a skilled tailor, was taken and killed. When the moment was right, they left their hiding place with as many belongings as they could manage and walked from Ainteb, Turkey, her birthplace and home, until they reached Aleppo, Syria. Having escaped the horrors of the genocide, my grandmother grew up in Aleppo and then made her way to Beirut, Lebanon where my mother was born. They immigrated to Canada where I was born.
On my father’s side, both my grandparents were orphaned by the genocide. They were raised in orphanages in Egypt where they fell in love and married. My father was born in Cairo. My father’s mother had the most generous laugh. She also made the most spectacular Finikia cookies I’ve ever tasted. I unfortunately never got to know either of my grandfathers as they passed away.
I’m so happy you’re here and learning with me! Melma’s talented cooking was gifted with techniques and flavours from Armenia and our diaspora in Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. I know that wherever you are in the world reading this, food will unite us as friends and family.
(May it be sweet!)
Sylvia Hagopian, MEd
I am writing this blog from land that is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. I acknowledge that Toronto is covered by Treaty 13 signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams Treaties signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands. I acknowledge that settler colonialism has, and continues to, benefit my family. As a recent descendant of genocide survivors, it is especially important for me to acknowledge this.