This really begs for pictures (just a month and change ‘til I have my own fast internet), but I recently joined my host family to make Khorovats, the delicious and rightly famous Armenian barbecue. Below I summarize the process in several easy steps so that you too can make your own, provided you have a lot of sword-like kebab sticks, your own Peace Corps trainee, and an in-ground ceramic oven big enough to cook Oscar the Grouch in-can.
- Marinate a giant pile of potatoes and chicken in a variety of spices in the kitchen sink.
- Thread the meat and potatoes onto the big metal sword-sticks, ideally showing off some Armenian dance moves as you do so.
- Make a giant fire in the tonir (the afore-mentioned oven) and wait for it to burn down to coals. In the meantime, climb a rickety ladder up onto the roof to inspect the process from above through the chimney. Throughout the process, do not under any circumstances sit on the ground or you WILL get a stomachache or some other illness.
- Once fire burns to coals, hang meat sticks perpendicularly on larger sticks in tonir. Cover with old manhole cover and pile high with a dozen old coats.
- Amuse yourself for 35 minutes: teach the American Armenian dances, lounge on the old couch swing, smoke a few cigarettes, and say a few words of basic English. When the American compliments you on your language skills, confuse him by jokingly yelling “Heil Hitler!” but throwing up the Black Power salute. Never mention this exchange again.
- Remove coats and manhole cover, excavate meat. Transfer meat to plastic tub using lavash.
- Carry meat to kitchen table and consume with a mix of the following, all homemade: tomato sauce, salsa, copious lavash, cheese, and vodka.
- Upon reaching satiety, sit and stare at kitchen table for several minutes muttering “whoa” under your breath.
- Retire to living room and digest for several hours, either watching soap operas or playing backgammon.
- Ideally repeat as frequently as able, to maximize the American’s happiness.
Bonus: this week’s language-learning tidbits
Two items: first, the word for weird is tarorhenak, which is literally “different example”, as in, “Oh, he’s a different example”; I plan to start using this directly translated into English. Second, whoever came up with the word for train is seriously lazy, as it is gnastk, literally “go-er”. Total cop-out.