Escaping war, atrocity, genocide and looking for better economic opportunities, Armenians have been migrating to America for centuries. Settling across the country from Los Angeles to Detroit to Boston and everywhere in between, the Armenian footprint in America is vast, complex and hidden.
Like many other hyphenated diasporan communities who have suffered through forced displacement, a key question still persists: where is home? what does home even mean?
For people who have been on the move for over a century, who have lost their families, cities and language, food is the closest thing that encapsulates the feeling of being rooted. Food tells us stories about politics, history, immigration, identity and finding yourself. No group knows this better than Armenians. As the world is in the midst of a refugee crisis that parallels the fate of Armenians over a century ago, these stories are more important than ever.
Join us as we discover the Armenian fruit kings of Fresno, trace the introduction of yogurt into America and investigate whose grandmother makes the best mantuh.
Who Am I
I am an Armenian-American journalist who's always after a good story, and good food, preferably when they come together at the same time.
I came to the U.S. with my parents as a refugee from Iran, the most recent migration in a series of movements in my family that spans several countries, generations and bouts of trauma. I grew up in Los Angeles, feeling distinctively Armenian, Iranian and American, spending a lifetime attempting to reconcile all of those identities.
Journalism is my excuse to get to know the world. I like narrative non-fiction about unexplored people and issues that take a long time to report. I've written for national and international publications on many different things from places like California to Mongolia and currently live in Detroit thanks to a writing fellowship. It was my time here in the Midwest, where I heard stories from the descendants of Armenian Genocide survivors who landed in America over 100 years ago, that inspired this project. You can check out my work here.
Why Am I Doing This
"Home" is an elusive idea when the only constant you know is change.
This is true for most of the Armenian community forcibly scattered throughout the world. But far from being a monolith, Armenians encapsulate the varied, chaotic nature of "diaspora" perhaps better than anyone.
Armenia may be a country, but it is also a concept, one that functions independent of geography, making the Armenian narrative even more complicated than it already is.
Food is an underrated vehicle through which complex stories about communities with multi-faceted identities can be told, both to the world and the communities themselves, stories that span celebration and suffering, and everything in between.
This is my way of discovering and understanding who I am, those who came before me and how their legacies inform the future. It's about food, but it's also not about food. It's about displacement, alienation, exile and resilience. It's about exploring the intersection of race, class, identities, of nostalgia, the truth and who gets to own what. Through traveling across America, it's an attempt to uncover the hidden history of how complex the Armenian diaspora is.