March 29, 2005

armenian easter bread

En route to dim sum at Shangri-La in Belmont, which by the way is a fantastic Chinese restaurant in the least likely of settings (the name! the weird black & white mosaic tile entry! the T-shirt printery next door!) where we had some spicy beef noodle soup that contained some absolutely top-shelf beef that was soft, moist and still marbled with tender connective tissue despite its long stewing time (better than our own beef by a long shot), and also some fried string bread and spicy steamed spare ribs and soft boiled dumplings in spicy soy sauce that I know as suan la chow show from having had them at Mary Chung's. Where was I? Oh yes -- en route to this deliciousness, I saw a woman walking past us carrying a large cake or bread ring studded with red orbs. It looked rather festive and very intriguing, and I suspected it may have emanated from the Eastern Lamejun Bakery next door to Shangri-La.

Of course I was not able to resist. I scoped out the goods while waiting for our table, and scooped up the goods as soon as we were done with lunch. We ate the treasure with friends who came over that evening with fancy cheeses & wines. It turned out to be a firm, sweet, light, eggy bread like challah but a bit dryer and sweeter, with a very nice flavor and a touch of sesame seeds on top. The orbs, as surmised, were hardboiled eggs dyed red, presumably for some kind of Easter symbolism (I am not so up on my specific Christian-pagan imagery). It's too bad that organized religion is responsible for so much evil in the world, because the rituals and celebratory foods are really quite delightful.

Posted by foodnerd at March 29, 2005 10:33 AM

I'm also not a very "religious" person, but you're off base in the comment about organized religion since I do believe religion - look at the Jihadists - is really hypocritical and responsible for a lot of ills. I also believe however, that the traditions seem to be linked so often through the church - epecially the "smaller" institutions who keep these wonderful traditions going. The food nerd should go to one of the holiday Bazaars at the Armenian Church on Brattle street. The kitchen is humming and all sorts of food is for sale. This is so great. Also, let's not forget that no one in my acquaintance has EVER had some sort of sexual abuse situation eminating from the Armenian Church (perhaps because the priests marry, have kids, etc., and so are rather normal). The same is true for the Jewish religion(s). A pox on the great Boston politician, Cardinal Law who shipped priests around like Fedex, and ends up of all places in the Vatican? Poor form and hence note no good recipes either. How fortunate am I to remember my grandmother rolling out the paper-thin dough, filling it with a sugar syrup and crushed walnuts (her pronouonciation "puk-low-a" and you mentioned Eastern Lamejeun with the great GREAT meat pies. The tightly rolled "cigars" of grape leaves with lamb and rice cooked within - the same in stuffed peppers, zuccini and summer squash! How sad if the ethnic recipes fade. That's my comment (1/2 Armenian and 1/2 Jewish fellow who mourns two Holocausts) and wonderful recipes from both sides of the family. GRD

Posted by: Gordon R. Derman(gian) at May 6, 2008 07:23 PM
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