In the volatile Caucasus region, though, it seems that such food fights have now been taken to a whole new level. As Eurasianet.org reports, many Armenians are up in arms about a recent UNESCO decision to add the Anatolian stew "Keshkek" to its Intangible Cultural Heritage List on behalf of Turkey. They claim that "Keshkek" is actually an Armenian meal, which they call "Harissa."
Now a group of ethnographers from Turkey's eastern neighbor are actually
compiling information on the dish to appeal the ruling by the UN's
According to the News.am website,
Sedrak Mamulyan, the chairman of the "Development and Preservation of
Armenian Culinary Traditions" organization, is intent on demonstrating
that "the utensils, methods, and ingredients used for making...Harissa
have a pure Armenian origin and it is a purely Armenian dish." The same organization has also attacked Georgia for commandeering "Khash." It insists that this tasty beef soup is in fact an Armenian national dish.
Armenia, meanwhile, has itself come under fire from Azerbaijan, which has accused its neighbor and regional nemesis of "cuisine plagiarism." Baku's National Security Ministry has even set up a National Cuisine Center to reinforce its claim
to the nation's cuisine and, in particular, to help counter any
Armenian efforts to appropriate what it feels are Azerbaijani dishes.
The "Tolma" dish,
which consists of meatballs wrapped in grape leaves, seems to be a
particular bone of contention between the two countries, especially
since Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev publicly announced last year
that it was an Azeri national dish.
This provoked a furious response in Armenia
and various initiatives have been launched to help save the country's
national dishes from "occupants." This even includes holding an annual Tolma Festival to reinforce the idea that it is a typically Armenian food.
Whatever the upshot of these culinary claims and counterclaims, it sadly
doesn't seem like these regional rivals will be sitting down to break
bread with each other anytime soon.
This post appears courtesy of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.