Asbarez, America's Largest Armenian-American Newspaper, Angry That Turkish Cooking Classes Are Happening in Orange County

Categories: Indigestion
adanakabob.jpg
Photo by the Elmo Monster
Adana kabob from Anaheim's Doner G--actually Armenian?
I'm totally down with Armenians--much more so than Turks (it's that whole genocide question, alas, although I know more than a few Turks who freely call the Ottoman Empire's slaughter of Armenians in the first part of the 20th Century a genocide . . . but never among other Turks). But I was totally taken aback by an op-ed piece published last week on Asbarez.com, the website for the country's oldest and most prestigious Armenian-American newspaper.

In the piece, contributor Garen Yegparian started by blasting some of President Barack Obama's diplomatic choices, choices beyond the scope of a food blog's interest. There was a mention of Orange County in Yegparian's analysis--and then, the conversation turned to food.

"While in Orange County, I should also mention that someone's offering 'Turkish' cooking classes there," Yegparian wrote. "Isn't that just great? Not only do we have to contend with Turkey usurping and 'Turkifying' the Armenian, Greek and other cultural legacies of Asia Minor, but now we have Turks in the U.S. passing off as their own the cuisines they stole from the peoples they murdered!"

And it only got better.

Yegparian then went on to note that "Orange County serves as a locus (maybe I should say a plague of locusts) of Turkish activity of all types because of the large Turkish community there," and that's just crossing the line. Oh, I have no love lost for the leaders of the Turkish-American community in Orange County--but locusts? Really?

Getting back to food: I know the Pacifica Institute, a nonprofit that hosts Turkish-culture classes and is based in Orange County, offers local Turkish cooking classes, and it's also in charge of the Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival--but stealing dishes from conquered cultures? I don't think anyone who eats food will ever think of doner as anything other than a cousin of shawerma, or baklava as having come from somewhere other than Turkey. And I always find one the sausage I consider Armenian--sojouk--far more frequently at Lebanese restaurants than at Turkish ones, but with no clarification it's originally Armenian. The Middle Eastern diet, from the reaches of Afghanistan to Greece and around the southern Mediterranean, is essentially local riffs on various cooked meats, rice pilafs, dips and flatbreads--to argue about which culture invented or owns one of their shared dishes is a futile exercise. And if you don't believe me, ask a Palestinian and Israeli about falafels. . . .


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13 comments
Joe Schmoe
Joe Schmoe

What is next from these Armenians, will they end up claiming that the words "Glendale" or "Fresno" or "Watertown" derive from the Armenian language. They will probably next even claim that even Jesus Christ was Armenian. Also, they will even claim that cologne, BMW and Mercedes Benzs were Armenian inventions. This just proves that Armenians cannot live in peace with others, look at Glendale. I'd bet if someone evicts a person of Armenian origin out of Glendale apartment, they will accuse the landlord of a "Genocide." They are getting mad that Turkish cooking classes are taking place because of the fact that they hate Turkish people even more then Nazis, even the Taner Akcam or Orhan Pamuk types, because their minds are ignorant from hate towards every single Turkish people on the planet and if an Armenian finds out someone is of Turkish origin, they will blow up like a bull and kill the person who happens to be of Turkish origin. They need to give up and move on, forgive and forget about this genocide issue and stop hating, whining, pouting and complaining about Turkey and Turkish people. If Turkey and Turkish people so bad, why do they flock to Turkey to live a better life. Because while their diasporamen waste their money on a hate campaign/war against Turkey and every single Turkish people on the planet, their country is almost becoming as poor as Africa, while Turkey has an economy that is 15 largest in the world and is on becoming a flourishing superpower in the region in economic, military, and industrial aspects.

Supertime7
Supertime7

Armenians lost all political influence and now they are like mad dogs attacking everyone and everythingarmenia is un important country runned by criminal mafia type govrement, armenians in US just stolen close to $1 billion from mdicare and that is just drop in the bucket if you combine all other crimes such as insurance theft, car theft identity theft it will add more, armenian consul general in LA(EX Now) was selling fake documents to armenian criminals for $35.000 each to get a visa in US, Glendale is a crime capital in US ask to LAPD why they do not hire armenian police officers in that city?now they attact the food, typical armenian hate running wild, and l hope they sufficate in their own hate, usually happanes that way.

Diamond Dog
Diamond Dog

Farida,

You must be Chinese. tell your people to stop killing people and to take accountability for it. I dishonor victims of Genocide?? At least I don't commit it like your people.

Diamond Dog
Diamond Dog

There are many atrocities that have been committed by various races where those 2 races now share cuisines and promote and serve them. For example, Edwin's piece a while back on Liang's Kitchen in Irvine where he blurs the line between Taiwanese and Chinese. He even talked about the models of jet airplanes in the restaurant flown by a family member by the "Chinese" that "fled" China. Many of those "military" objects where used to SLAUGHTER Taiwanese people by these "fleeing" Chinese. Some how when people say "fleeing" we think they were good because they fled a communist country. I challenge you all to read about the 2-28 incident and read Formosa Betrayed by George Kerr. I remind you that Taiwan was under martial law by the Chinese until 1986!

I wrote to Edwin personally to explain this to him and even sent him and e copy of the book so he could have a better understanding. He never responded. Even though the Chinese committed similar atrocities in his homeland, Indonesia (Tibet comes to mind). Thought he would at least finish what he started when he digressed from the food.

So I can understand some of the author's feelings, but only a little. Chinese people are fine, many Chinese are fine. But if a Chinese person tells me I am Chinese when I am not or that they fled to Taiwan and did great things for the Taiwanese people, I will have a problem.

All of this still has nothing to do with the food and I have no problem with Taiwanese making Chinese food or vice versa or teaming up to do cooking classes. I do have a problem with when people do not understand history or facts and then write about "more than the food" and put a "happy spin" on something very serious to many people. Just leave that crap out and talk about how tasty or bad the food is. Even talk about the service of the joint. That's all we care about.

Personally, I love the contribution both the Turks and Armenians have made to our ethnic variety of food in S. Cal and find the cuisines unique and tasty. I don't know much about the conflict between the two groups, so i won't pretend like I do and give any opinion on that.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Soujouk is originally Armenian, but came to Lebanon with the Armenian diaspora. When the Armenians were slaughtered, the soujouk stayed, but it's definitely Armenian, not native Lebanese.

What I don't understand is this: why not offer Armenian cooking classes, advertise them better, and lay claim to the origin of the food? If Asbarez is so upset about this, let them do an advertising exchange, or outright pay for the outreach of Armenian gastronomy to non-Armenians.

Teach people the Armenian words for things. Get Armenian restaurants to use Armenian names for foods, rather than trying to be "Middle Eastern" or "Mediterranean". Name pickles "ttu" ("sour" in Armenian) or "tutvash" ("pickle"), not "turşusu", etc. The more commonly people use the native Armenian word, the more powerful the Armenian influence will be.

Don't just whinge about it in editorials.

Bill Saroyan
Bill Saroyan

It would be interesting to compare some of your opinions about Mexico, Mexicans, and Mexican-Americans with your attitude towards Armenia, Armenians, and Armenian-Americans. Did I say "interesting"? I meant "amusing."

FaridaS
FaridaS

"I dishonor victims of Genocide??"

Repeating what I said doesn't make it untrue. And sorry, you're wrong again Dog Shit, I'm not Chinese. But way to prove my point on your racism with the "your people". Your predictable patterns of bigotry makes me laugh more than your stupidity.

What else you got to say for yourself, dickless?

FaridaS
FaridaS

Diamond Dog, before you go spouting off thinking you know anything about Indonesian history and the Chinese in it, you should practice what you preach: do not speak of anything you know nothing about. I take exception to your presumed righteousness when you are demonstrating the same ignorance that you purport to rail against.

If you're going to flippantly say that the Chinese performed "atrocities in Indonesia", you are trivializing the fact that the Chinese themselves have always been victims of persecution in Indonesia dating back to 1740 during the Dutch colonial period, when thousands of them were MURDERED in Batavia.

In recent history, the Indonesian government adopted an official policy of discrimination against them as part of 1967's "Basic Policy for the Solution of the Chinese Problem". The Chinese were forced to change their names, hide their culture for fear of reprisal or murder.

From the Jakarta Post: "They grew their moustaches to narrow the gap of physical differences with their fellow Indonesians, converted to Islam in the hope to get equal treatment and donned sunglasses to hide their slanted eyes. Others sun-bathed all day long to darken their fair skin or simply denied their identities. All were done with safety in mind as torturing Chinese Indonesians was something many prided in."

In the riots of 1998, the Chinese were the primary target of violence by natives. Here's a snippet of a report from the BBC "according to witnesses, the rioters would attack houses, rape the younger women, burn the house, and then move on to the next house. Girls as young as 11 were targeted, and were often raped in front of their families by as many as 10 men."

There's more here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/eve...

So congrats, you just insulted an entire group of people who've had relatives, loved ones murdered and raped.

Next time you wanna play the racial-sensitivity-police-man, do your homework, or better yet, just shut up.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Bill: Go ask ANCA about my record of going against Turkish deniers of the Armenian Genocide—go ahead, ask.

Diamond Dog
Diamond Dog

FaridaS,

although the rape of even one or a group of girls is horrific, but how about upwards of 1.2 million + people from Tibet by Chinese. Not some group, or some rebels, or some religious extremists, as your article points out, but sanctioned by the government. How about 40K - 80k Taiwanese in just 1947 by the Chinese? Led by Chiang Kai-shek who Edwin so endearingly mentions in his write of Liang's Kitchen, with the models of fighter jets in the restaurant. Who have the Taiwanese slaughtered? I think China is pushing 80 million people (Holocaust is around 12 million) they have slaughtered thus far through out history. What is the real number China? Think we will ever get a straight answer about that? You don't see China getting Human Rights awards or recognition do you?

And to call Liang's Kitchen a TAIWANESE restaurant, with military memorabilia displayed is the real insult. They may serve Taiwanese food, but they are not Taiwanese owners. but I digress.....

I so wish the article we are all commenting on was about a Turkish and an Armenian restaurant that showed pictures of some of their dishes, told us what to order, how it tasted, and maybe even some history behind the dish. Maybe it would have encouraged a discussion more about food. But it didn't go down that way did it?

Diamond Dog
Diamond Dog

so because some group had atrocities committed against them, that justifies or make the atrocities they commit against other people not as bad?

Supertime7
Supertime7

sir you are miss informed, yes they produce pictures most are fake, yes they lie to say they were innocent , when they lived 700 or more years with Turks and made a deal with Russians to gain their won province inside Turkey like other ex soviet block,yes they killed their neigboors while Turkish strong man in front figting the invaders in 5 fronts, no one was home to protect the weak women and children, yes they betrayed the trust of Turks,yes they were ordered to leave the country by the Ottomons since they could not protect them since Turks were angry wanted to take revenge, and yes Turks Killed 300.000 armenians in retaliation, after armenias killed 500.000 Turks, just bcz they carry a cross it doesnt mean they have the right to massacare, and just 18 years ago they masacared 1000's of Azeri people it was condemd by United Nations yes armenians are genocidial race, please get informed, this is why US will never agree with them as they know the rel truth, and armenians as we speak host Russian military basses in their soil, not like Turkey who is NATO, who is your friend think about that

FaridaS
FaridaS

Really? You're going to play our-murdered-are-more-important-than-your-murdered? Our rapes tore up more vaginas?

You sicken me. You dishonor all victims of genocide when you use their deaths to score points in a pissing contest.

Admit it: you're getting defensive because I called you out for being as ignorant as the writer you complained about. Difference is, you topped your own ignorance with stupidity, and after your comments about the restaurant owners, it's now abundantly clear that you're also a foaming-mouth racist. Bravo.

And oh, this part? "Maybe it would have encouraged a discussion more about food. But it didn't go down that way did it?"

That's like taking a shit on a plate and complaining about the smell. You are just as complicit in this as anyone. Pot, you're black as kettle. You'll, of course, have more excrement to add to the thread once you read this, which will further confirm your douchebaggery. It's exactly what I expect you to do. Asshole racist swine like you are too predictable.

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