I am back home in Goris and enjoying a perfect dinner of Irish Wheaten bread with Armenian butter, salad, and cheese.
The bread comes from Knott’s Bakery in Newtownards a no-nonsense town just outside Belfast, Northern Ireland. The tomatoes probably grew under plastic in Ararat Marz, as did the cucumber, sweet and juicy. I bought the salad makings from the greengrocers–a brother and sister– not a hundred steps from where I live in the South of Armenia.
The milk for the cheese came from Nelli’s father’s cow, grazed on the grassy slopes above Verishen village. The cheese was made by Nelli’s mother here in Goris.
The bread, a taste of the first place I ever called home, was a gift hauled 3500 miles from Millisle, County Down. I hadn’t met Isobel before she handed over the wheaten. Isobel, who is married to an Armenian raised in Iraq, found me through this blog. In return for my updates on everyday life in Armenia, she sends me regular reports from the Ards Peninsula. It is very cheering to receive photos of the view from Isobel’s kitchen window– water stretching out towards Scotland —and to get a report on this year’s rose show at Lady Dixon Park. Then, oh joy, Isobel offered to run a few messages for me, bringing bread supplies all the way to Yerevan.
“Could you manage a bag or two of dulse as well?”
I couldn’t resist the additional request.
They sell this dark, dusty, dried seaweed at the newsagents in Millisle so Isobel was glad to comply. I had eaten both bags of the salty snack before I even got back to my Yerevan hotel on Sunday night. Armenians get their iodine rush from walnuts. I like walnuts but I am addicted to the chew and swallow of Celtic kelp.
Dulse devoured, I broke into the bread before the marshutni made it all the way back to Goris. Luckily Isobel bought two loaves.
Isobel is a find even when she is not on a wholemeal mercy dash. The visit to the rose show and the talk of grandchildren in her electronic dispatches let me know that we are around the same age but in fact we have more in common than our years. We each have daughters to be proud of. Sons to worry about. We shared some enjoyable eye-rolls on the topics of Brexit, relatives, and Armenian shipping. It was not only a huge relief to be speaking in English, but a real indulgence to use the verbs of my childhood. I dandered (walked slowly). I hirpled (lurched or limped). I was alternately scundered (embarrassed) and cowping (falling into a deep sleep). It was great, so it was.
Tomorrow’s breakfast will be a local-laid egg fried in a pan with a wee bit of potato bread. A great start to a new day in Armenia and a lovely way to bring my old home a little bit closer.
Isobel. I’m very glad to know you.