Beef kebab, baklava and all kinds of other Armenian food – including one you may have never heard of – will be available at the Grand Armenian Festival this weekend.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday, Sept. 24, at California Armenian Home, 6720 E. Kings Canyon Road in Fresno. Admission is $5.
“This festival is basically a tradition that dates back hundreds and hundreds of years,” says Raffy Chekerdemian, a festival organizer.
Its roots are in a tiny village in what is now Syria where this end-of-harvest celebration was held each year.
This year’s festival in Fresno will have lots of food available for purchase, including some favorite juicy meats and flaky pastries, and one food that might not be familiar to everyone: prpoor.
That stems from the tradition of stomping grapes into grape juice and cooking the juice over a low flame for hours until it turns into a thick molasses with golden foam on top.
Prpoor is the edible froth.
It will be passed out and ready to taste around 7 p.m.
Traditionally, the sweet grape molasses was stored and eaten throughout the winter by dipping bread into it.
Shortly before the prpoor is ready, around 6 p.m., there will be an elaborate blessing of the grapes ceremony.
Of course, there’s lots more food available too, with the entire menu online.
The shish kebab is popular and available in beef or chicken. There are sandwiches made from falafel or spiced Armenian sausages. A vegetarian plate, stuffed grape leaves, rice pilaf, even french fries with a “special Armenian sauce” will be for sale.
And of course the desserts: Baklava, traditional Armenian sweet breads and cookies and künefe, a pastry made with a sugary syrup, cheese and strands of pastry.
The event also includes performances by Armenian folk dancers and singer André from Armenia.
All are welcome, Chekerdemian says: “We really want non-Armenians to come and get a taste of our culture and our food.”
Joshua Tehee’s column will return.