A very important aspect of Armenian cuisine is the traditional bread in the country. Lavash for Armenians has a sacred meaning and symbolizes well-being, luck, abundance, prosperity.
Armenian bread - lavash is an integral part of Armenian cuisine and culture. Lavash for Armenians has a sacred meaning and symbolizes well-being, luck, abundance, prosperity.
Bread is an ancient and enduring symbol of Armenian heritage, as is tonir (tandoor, oven-roaster) where lavash is traditionally baked. In the Areni cave (where the oldest winery in the world was also found), a tonir dating from the 6th BC. century was discovered. In 2014, lavash was selected for the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage - “Lavash, the preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia”. In November 2019, CNN included Armenian lavash in the list of 50 best breads in the world.
The process of making lavash has also been documented in countless paintings. In the 1970s, the 38th president of the United States, Gerald Ford, even chose the work of the artist Manuel Tolegyan, “Armenian women bake lavash bread” for the White House collection.
Many Armenian traditions, legends and signs are associated with lavash.According to the legend, it was lavash that kept St. Gregory the Illuminator alive for 13 years of imprisonment. Thanks to his apostolate Armenia became the first country in the world to adopt Christianity as a state religion. According to the wedding tradition of Armenians the newlyweds’ shoulders are covered with lavash when they enter the house, which symbolizes well-being and fertility for the new family.
The basic recipe for lavash is very simple - flour, water and salt. However, time-consuming and complex making and baking process makes it unique, tasty and durable. Another distinguishing feature of lavash is its versatility - you can wrap food in it or eat it separately. Quite spectacular is a khash eating ritual. Khash is traditional Armenian dish (soup) cooked by boiling calves’ hooves . The process of preparing and eating this dish is accompanied by many rituals, and one of them is associated with lavash. Traditionally, khash is eaten with hands - dry lavash is crushed into the broth and covered with a large piece of lavash. So, khash covered with lavash remains hot for a long time. Then by using a piece of lavash you can eat broth, lavash serving as a spoon.
Traditionally, only women bake lavash. Perhaps, this also has a sacred meaning, since a woman in Armenian culture is the guardian of the household. The baking process requires special skills, experience and efforts. First, dough is prepared, which is divided into small balls. Then they are rolled into thin layers and pulled on an oval pillow. After the pillow is lowered into the tonir and slapped on the wall. After some time, a cripsy bread is drawn from there. The layers can be laid down, covered and stored for a long time. To restore softness, just spray it with some water.