What a night we had! I got together with my friends Claire and Kim of bookstorepeople, and we invited our book-loving/foodie friends to a feast culled from family recipes from our friend Nancy Mehagian’s foodoir, Siren’s Feast (she also has a blog of the same name). Nancy, a first generation Armenian-American, is quite a character—growing up, she was not exactly the good suburban girl/cheerleader her parents, who narrowly escaped genocide, might have expected. And, what saints her parents were! As Nancy chronicles her unforgettable adventures as a young woman in the 60s and 70s you have to wonder how any parent could have lived through it. In Nancy’s case, this was no minor phase; it lasted for about a decade and included several continents, months of being incommunicado, lots of sex, drugs and cooking, a stint as a cabaraet dancer in Syria, and a relationship with a Bedouin gypsy. That’s the very short version, and throughout it all her parents maintained cool, understanding, even helpfulness. Imagine your daughter with a newborn baby newly moved into—yes!—a London prison for 16 months.
What I wanted to know: When Nancy was on the Spanish island of Ibiza, sleeping with seemingly everyone while trying to get a vegetarian restaurant off the gound, did she have sex with my boyfriend who spent six months there before starting medical school?
No, she did not. But I kind of wish she had. It would have made for some interesting conversation.
Not that we needed it. The food was enough to get us going: We had platters of Armenian dishes that most of us had never eaten before—all the recipes, which are in the book, are the real deal. As we were eating we had a book-group discussion of Siren’s Feast. There were about 20 of us, and everyone was so interested in the book, and Nancy, it went on, and on. It was after 11 on a “school night” that the last guest left, which is like 3 am in many cities that are not LA. It was so much fun…we’re trying to decide on another foodoir (love that, don’t you?) so we can stage another like party. Stay tuned. Plus, look for lots more (six, to be exact) Armenian delicacies from this party. The posts are just beginning.
Serves 4 to 6
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 medium beets, peeled and diced
Small bunch cilantro, washed and finely chopped
1 T lemon juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 t. ground cumin
Salt and course-grind black pepper
Steam carrots and beets until tender, about 10 minutes. (I cannot tell a lie: I bought my beets from TJs already peeled and steamed.) Allow to cool, then place in bowl. Add cilantro.
Make dressing by combining the remaining ingredients, then pour into bowl and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.
Other Recipes from Nancy
Muhammara–Lebanese Walnut Dip