Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Wedding Pilaf - "Ghoozoo Ichi"

I am Armenian. That might mean different things to different people, but to me it means that 97 years ago, my people were almost wiped off of the face of the planet. They were massacred. Their homes were broken into by the Ottoman military and their wives and children were raped, tortured, and murdered. Neighborhoods became mass graves and prisons. Our ancient churches, the first of which was built in 480 AD, were torn down and/or reestablished as mosques. Our national monuments were desecrated and taken away from us. Armenia was reduced to 11,000 square miles; a tiny country on the outskirts of Turkey. A blip on the map.

The casualties totaled approximately 1.5 million and, for almost a century, the Ottoman/Turkish government has still not acknowledged their ancestors' actions as genocide. In fact, most international governments have condemned the current Turkish government for denying that what happened in 1915 was a genocide. Most countries around the world have recognized the Genocide, except for Turkey, the United States, and a handful of others, despite historical record.

It pains me that many people around the world are still not aware of the significance of April 24, 1915, the official start date of the Armenian Genocide, when Armenian intellectuals were targeted and arrested just for being Armenian/Christian. Hundreds of thousands of others were forced to march for approximately 500 miles to what is now Syria. Without food or water. Without their dignity. Some died along the way, some made it to their final destination and were then killed, and some, like my ancestors, survived and thrived in spite of the systematic execution of their people. That's what genocide means: "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group."

In honor of this most significant day in my ethnic history, I watched my mother, the daughter of a Genocide orphan (her father was torn away from his family and grew up in an orphanage in Syria), cook my favorite Armenian dish: Wedding Pilaf or "Ghoozoo Ichi" as we call it. It is made with rice and ground beef, a seven spice blend, and nuts, but most importantly it is made with our heritage in mind. It represents the Armenian diaspora, as the recipe draws from a Middle Eastern dish my mother learned to make in Lebanon. It is the ultimate comfort food and today, it makes me proud to call myself Armenian. 

Take time today to educate yourselves about what happened on April 24, 1915: not a massacre, not a holocaust. A genocide.


  1. it honestly boggles my mind how we do not consider it a genocide.

  2. Wonderful heartfelt article that leaves me speechless. While growing up, I had never read about this genocide in history lessons. Today, I home school my 2 children. When we did world history, they not only read in great detail about this horrible event (which if I remember correctly preceded the Holocaust) but the curriculum included a historical fiction for the kids to read based on a true story of a little girl. We just couldn't believe how we were never taught this is history. Why we as a human race, believe that we must force everyone to believe and think the way we do just continues to mystify me. This must be such a bittersweet day for you and your family and what a wonderful dish to commemorate the day.

    1. Sarah - Thank you so much for your kind words! It's sad to know that some moments in history have been left out of curricula, but I'm so glad to know that it has not disappeared completely. So much politics surrounds this one event, that I don't think it will ever be properly addressed by those who have the power to make all the difference in the world. Thank you for sharing your personal experience with me!


Merci beaucoup!

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