Updated: Oct 29, 2019
Meyhane Series #7: Celebrating cuisine and music of Istanbul Armenians with The Secret Trio in concert
Long ago, Istanbul was home to many ethnic groups that defined the fabric of life. The most prominent ethnic minority groups were Rums, Jews and Armenians. Meyhanes-which were gathering places for friends to chat, drink and listen to music over small plates of meze is where the inspiration of our events come from. In their golden years, meyhane’s were owned by Rums, Armenians and Jews, as the Muslims did not drink alcohol. Many of the mezes we came to know today has their roots in these ethnic kitchens.
Bolsahays – is the name given to Armenians from Istanbul (Bolsi- deformed beginning of the word Constantinople, and Hays-meaning Armenian). They are considered to be a unique community within Armenians, with very different food traditions often regarded as gourmet. In this respect, this is very similar to Rumi cuisine and how Istanbul Rumis consider themselves uniquely different than Anatolian or Hellenic Greeks in culture and cuisine. Special dolmas, such as spleen dolma, mussel dolma and others are often attributed to Armenian heritage. “Ciroz” – salted dried mackerel, “Uskumru dolmasi”- stuffed and fried mackerel, “Topik”- onions stewed in warm spices stuffed in chickpea mash, “Khavidz” – dessert made from milk, browned flour and butter, “anuşabur” a dessert made from grains are all unique to this cuisine. We will be cooking recipes from our own research as well as a few cookbooks and historical documents. First one is Takuhi Tovmasyan who explains why mezes are part of Istanbul Armenians. She mentions in her cookbook and memoirs “Sofraniz Sen Olsun” (The happy dining table) that the conversation is the most important part of a meal. Figuratively speaking, dining and drinking became excuses to converse and enjoy friends. The second book was written in 1926 by Vağinag Pürad called “The excellent cookbook” featured 637 recipes.
Music Program “The Secret Trio”
THE SECRET TRIO is an instrumental group consisting of Ismail Lumanovski (clarinet), Tamer Pınarbaşı (kanun), and Ara Dinkjian (oud), each considered by many to be among the best in the world on their respective instruments. In 2010, these three New York-based musicians, each busy with numerous projects, felt the desire to play music which would satisfy their own creative and emotional needs. They began to meet at Dinkjian’s home where they developed a group philosophy and sound. This philosophy begins with a mutual respect and admiration. Ismail, Tamer, and Ara individually have extensive education in both eastern and western music and have performed throughout the world. Each is a composer. Music, one of humanity’s most precious gifts, has united their cultural diversity (Ara is Armenian, Tamer is Turkish, and Ismail is Macedonian). The Secret Trio has recorded two CDs: Soundscapes and Three Of Us, which has special guests Sezen Aksu and Erkan Oğur, two of Turkey’s most iconic performers.
Some of you know Ara Dinkjian’s compositions that Sezen Aksu have recorded such as “Yinemi cicek”, “Vazgectim”, “Sarisin”, “Hosgeldin” among many others.