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Cook tolma and make pickles at Tatoents Qotuk

Cook tolma and make pickles at Tatoents Qotuk image

Learn the Armenian art of pickling and preserving with your expert host. (Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program)

In the town of Ashtarak, the Tatoents Qotuk house stands out—and not only because it is a historic structure that dates to 1837. What should draw you to the house are cooking classes in preparing two of Armenia’s culinary mainstays: delicious tolma, a dish that unites Armenians around the globe; and traditional pickles, made from a variety of fresh vegetables.

Hripsime Tumanyan’s family has owned the Tatoents Qotuk house for more than a century, and the family’s stories of joy and oppression are etched in the architecture itself. Hripsime and her son, Karen Hakobyan, invite you to enjoy the family’s residence, from its 200-year-old, seven-arched cellar to the tales they share through food.

Making tolma always creates a joyous atmosphere, and you will experience one of the best Armenian traditions of hospitality as Hripsime shows you how to mix your stuffings and carefully wrap them in cabbage or grape leaves. You’ll have a chance to choose your own personal stuffing; from the traditional meat tolma to vegetable and vegetarian variants, there is always a tolma for everyone.

Next, Hripsime will teach you the art of pickling, which has long been an integral part of Armenian culinary life. What was once essential to preserve enough food to survive the winters still regularly complements nearly any dish on Armenian dining tables—in villages and cities alike. Hripsime will help you to choose from a variety of seasonal vegetables and then to neatly stack them in a jar with a blend of spices, herbs, and salt to marinate. Although it may be a few weeks before they’re ready to eat, you won’t mind when you break the seal back home and share this Armenian culinary tradition with friends and family.

When it comes time to eat, the table will be full of your tolma and other traditional dishes that may be ordered in advance—true to the Armenian saying that every inch of the table must be filled with dishes so there are no empty spaces!

Meet your host

Meet Hripsime and her son, Karen, who welcome you into one of the most historic and cozy corners of Ashtarak, and who will share with you stories from their 18th-century ancestor Tadevos, known as Tato. Tatoents Qotuk is a two-story house, with a 200-year-old, seven-arched cellar. The stories of this house and of the family parallel each other and are inextricably connected. After deciding to keep the house, the family resolved to keep its door open, just as it has been for at least two centuries. Come through their open door, hear traditional Armenian music, taste delicious local food, and enjoy their captivating storytelling and warm hospitality.

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

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