An Armenian Journey to This American Table

Saturday afternoon I found myself surrounded by gentle-rolling countryside neatly lined with luscious vineyards. “It’s hard to believe this is still Fresno,” someone noted as I readied the camera.

Kim and I were visiting the Tanielian Farm House for an Armenian dinner organized by Slow Food Madera. The event highlighted the Torigian family’s journey from Kharput, Armenia to Fresno, and featured traditional Armenian fare: toorshi (pickled vegetables), fresh string cheese, yalanchi, bulgar pilaf, grilled lamb, cheese berag, and soorj (sweet, “Turkish” coffee). Yum.

Fredo Martin, fellow Slow Food Madera board member and one of the event’s organizers, offered a summary of the Torigian family’s story, as told by daughter Tracy:

Tracy’s first American ancestor came to America in the early 1900s, and quickly made his way from the east coast to central California. Her emotional moment with the microphone said it all: this was a very important event for her family and for Fresno metro Armenian community–a moment to remember its history, celebrate its culture, resilience, strong family ties and tightly woven sense of belonging.

Her family lost an entire generation–her father, Marshall Torigian, pointed out to me that Armenian Americans of his age never had grandparents because of the genocide. The family members who could, fled to safety and reached Marseille in southern France, where they remained for a few years, then, made the long journey to the Americas, reaching Veracruz, Mexico. One of the four sisters decided to go north and married Kazar, the first American of the family, already settled in Fresno.

Tracy shared the family’s story while her father and brothers cooked (with help from a few others).

We ate feasted. We drank local wine (from Agajanian Vineyards). And we danced. I’m not sure photos can capture the importance of such an event, but for those who couldn’t be there:

















11 Responses to “An Armenian Journey to This American Table”

  1. Rebek
    May 26, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    Beautiful photos. Wish I went to this event!

    • james
      May 26, 2011 at 6:04 pm #

      Thanks Bekah – you should have come! Sign up for Slow Food’s emails so you know when stuff’s going down: http://slowfoodmadera.org. They throw some amazing parties.

  2. Rachel
    May 26, 2011 at 12:31 pm #

    That looks amazing. Too bad I just moved from Fresno to Michigan. Great pictures!

    • james
      May 26, 2011 at 6:05 pm #

      Rachel, if you ever come back to visit, let me know and I’ll keep you up to date on any similar events. I love the blog!

  3. Rebecca
    May 26, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

    Your photos are beautiful, James!!

    • james
      May 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

      Thank you, Rebecca!

  4. Felix Muzquiz
    May 26, 2011 at 6:40 pm #

    Well done, James! You captured it beautifully with your candid pictures of the event.

  5. Jeremy
    May 26, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    Hye quality blog post! I really like how you outlined the plate. James, photo quality…….EXCELLENT. Great coverage of the event.

    • james
      May 27, 2011 at 12:28 am #

      Ha, nice Jeremy. I wish I could take credit for that plate outline, but I think that came from Bella Cocina.

  6. Tari
    May 26, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    Love the photos, such Beautiful colors. I think we shall sign up, too. Thanks for posting this!

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