The arrival of thousands of Syrian-Armenian refugees in Armenia is injecting a welcome dose of flavor into local cuisine, especially in the capital, Yerevan.
The food sector has become a means of survival for many of the 17,000 Syrian-Armenian refugees who have fled Syria’s civil war in recent years and who are now trying to make a new life in Armenia. In this spice-light South Caucasus country, generously spiced muhammara (hot pepper dip), lahmajoon (thin-crust pizza with ground beef or lamb), fattoush (a green salad topped with pieces of pita-bread), falafel (fried balls of ground chickpeas) and other Middle Eastern dishes have quickly gained popularity among Armenians.
“Syrian-Armenians were encouraged by the fact that locals warmly welcomed the tastes and the smells [of the cuisine] they brought with them, and that is why numerous Syrian-Armenians preferred to try their luck in the food sector,” said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Yerevan-based foreign-relations coordinator Anahit Hayrapetian.
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Marianna Grigoryan is a freelance reporter based in Yerevan and editor of MediaLab.am.