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Secrets of qyalagyosh and tasting ceremony

Secrets of qyalagyosh and tasting ceremony image

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia Program

You cannot just eat qyalagyosh. You must honor this hearty soup with a special ceremony in traditional Armenian fashion. If you visit Hatsatun, a restaurant run by a husband-and-wife and artist duo, Vahagn Hambardzumyan and Zara Gasparyan, you will learn it all: not only how to savor the festive flavor, but also how to use lavash as your “spoon” to scoop up the creamy goodness. Of course, any qyalagyosh ceremony is not complete without enjoying some liquid refreshments—such as fruit juices or even homemade vodka. Whatever your preference, Vahagn will demonstrate how to give a kenats (toast) like a true Armenian.

As Zara likes to joke, qyalagyosh is like a Lego: you can assemble it any way you want. In Sisian, every authentic experience of qyalagyosh begins with a base of choratan, made from pearls of dried buttermilk, along with several other essential ingredients. You’ll face a table full of lentils, dried lavash, crushed garlic, stewed onion, and many other savory elements. When it’s time to eat, Vahagn and Zara will show you how to add each component to your bowl according to your taste preferences.

Eating qyalagyosh is a ceremony in itself. The dish is typically eaten with relatives and friends, accompanied by endless debates over how to build it the “right” way. Once your plate is brimming with goodness, Vahagn will demonstrate the toasting traditions that are part of the qyalagyosh ceremony. Two options are a fruit-derived vodka or a refreshing rose-syrup tonic made from flower petals plucked from their garden—all homemade by Zara and Vahagn.

Before or after your feast at Hatsatun, you may want to take one of Vahagn and Zara’s craft workshops offered next door at their Sisian Ceramics where you may learn how to paint on pottery, make a batik scarf, or even throw your own clay mug on the potter’s wheel.

Meet your hosts

Founded by Vahagn Hambardzumyan and Zara Gasparyan in 2004, Sisian Ceramics is first and foremost a pottery studio that uses local clay from the mountains of Sisian. Vahagn explains, “I was always interested in clay and pottery making, and decided that I should have my own workshop and develop ceramic art in our region.” Inspired by local nature and history, the studio seeks to preserve and restore traditional pottery-making practices.

Vahagn and Zara also exhibit artistry beyond the pottery wheel through their restaurant Hatsatun. Starting with tea for visitors, and then only a few local dishes, Vahagn eventually opened a full-fledged restaurant, which serves visitors some of the best-known examples of traditional local cuisine. As head chef, Zara uses organic fruits and vegetables from their garden, which are not only organic and healthy, but also characteristic of the region. In this way, Hatsatun emulates the same principles and dedication as Sisian Ceramics. Their secret: “if you love your work, it gives you strength to do everything to reach your goals.”

Preparing and tasting qyalagyosh by Hatsatun Հացատունը ցույց է տալիս թե ինչպես պետք է պատրաստել և համտեսել քյալագյոշը

Photo by Areg Vardanyan, My Armenia ProgramԼուսանկարը՝ Արեգ Վարդանյանի, «Իմ Հայաստան» ծրագիր

Preparing and tasting qyalagyosh by Hatsatun Հացատունը ցույց է տալիս թե ինչպես պետք է պատրաստել և համտեսել քյալագյոշը

Photo by My Armenia ProgramԼուսանկարը՝ «Իմ Հայաստան» ծրագրի

Photo by My Armenia ProgramԼուսանկարը՝ «Իմ Հայաստան» ծրագրի

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