Armenian flatbread – Lavash

Armenian women producing traditional Armenian flatbread, a production method that has not changed since ancient times. The UNESCO cultural and scientific organization has decided to include Armenian flatbread on its intangible cultural heritage list, recognizing the importance of the foodstuff to the country’s inhabitants. Lavash, a staple of Armenian cuisine, is a type of soft and very thin flatbread that can be consumed as a wrap for cheese, meat or vegetables. It is also popular throughout the South Caucasus, and in Iran and Turkey. According to a note on the UNESCO website, preparation of lavash “requires great effort, coordination, experience and special skills” and “strengthens family, community and social ties.” Lavash was accepted onto the list on Wednesday, with the UNESCO organization saying on its site that it acknowledged “the preparation, meaning and appearance of [the] traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia.” The Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists, a daring attempt to recognize and preserve immaterial culture, have been compiled since 2008, and entries from 103 countries are currently recognized by UNESCO. The lavash puts Armenia, a small, ancient South Caucasus nation of 3 million, ahead of much of the pack with a total of four entries on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Other Armenian entries recognized by UNESCO include the reed wind instrument duduk, the performance of the medieval epic “David of Sassoon,” and the art of stone cross making.

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UNESCO describes Lavash as the following: Lavash is a traditional thin bread that forms an integral part of Armenian cuisine. Its preparation is typically undertaken by a small group of women, and requires great effort, coordination, experience and special skills. A simple dough made of wheat flour and water is kneaded and formed into balls, which are then rolled into thin layers and stretched over a special oval cushion that is then slapped against the wall of a traditional conical clay oven. After thirty seconds to a minute, the baked bread is pulled from the oven wall. Lavash is commonly served rolled around local cheeses, greens or meats, and can be preserved for up to six months. It plays a ritual role in weddings, where it is placed on the shoulders of newlyweds to bring fertility and prosperity. The group work in baking lavash strengthens family, community and social ties. Young girls usually act as aides in the process, gradually becoming more involved as they gain experience. Men are also involved through the practices of making cushions and building ovens, and pass on their skills to students and apprentices as a necessary step in preserving the vitality and viability of lavash making. Armenian lavash has been prepared in the same way for thousands of years. Archaeologists in Armenia have uncovered ancient fire pits all strikingly similar to the tvonir ovens that are still used to bake lavash. According to the Encyclopedia International, “Common to all Armenians is their traditional unleavened bread, lav-ash, which is a staple in the Armenian diet.” Sources: • PeopleOfAr. (2014, November 28). Armenian Flatbread ‘Lavash’ is inscribed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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Armenian Bread Declared Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. instagram.com/historyofarmenia