National, International, Armenia, and Community News and Opinion

National, International, Armenia, and Community News and Opinion

6 The Armenian Reporter | April 11, 2009




Auntie Rose’s Kurabia

by Armen


Easter is my holiday. I have a collection

of whimsical bunnies, fancy

placemats, a dining table that

easily seats 17, and a traditional

menu that includes shish kebab,

pilaf, soubereg and all the trimmings.

The family arrives after

church and we graze on yalanchi

and string cheese while everyone

vows that from this year forward,

we will omit all mezza (appetizers)

and eat more sensibly. In the blink

of an eye, second helpings are being

dished out, everyone is again

complaining that there is too much

food, the women rise to go into

the kitchen to wash dishes, and

the men retire to the living room,

eyes at half mast, ready for afternoon

naps. Their youthful counterparts,

the grandchildren, run wild

through the house, energized from

all the foil wrapped chocolate eggs

they have ingested since the day

began. It may all sound crazy, but

the scene is a welcome tradition in

our ethnic household.

This year, however, Easter has

moved to my sister-in-law’s house.

We are in the middle of pouring

concrete and landscaping our yard;

I am busy tending to my mother’s

broken shoulder and subsequent

recovery. Easter dinner, for this

year and this year only, will be

cooked and eaten elsewhere.

Today, on the day I would normally

be making a major grocery

shopping list, I am headed to the

market to purchase five simple

items: one pound of unsalted butter,

one pound of regular butter,

shortening, a box of superfine sugar,

and flour. These are the ingredients

for kurabia, a traditional part

of our holiday ritual. Regardless of

whose house we may be celebrating

this year’s holiday – my kurabia will

be part of the annual tradition.

I first tasted kurabia, a delicate,

melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookie,

at my Aunt Rose’s house. I couldn’t

have been more than 6 or 7 years

old at the time. She lived across

the street and Saturdays were play

days with our cousins. I happened

to be there one day when a mystery

package arrived from her relatives

in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I

watched her carefully unwrap the

brown wrap that revealed an old,

battered Sees candy box, you know,

the shiny white box with black lettering

embossed on top, including

Mary Sees herself with that trademark

grandmotherly smile. The

box however, was not filled with

candy. Instead – two layers of neatly

placed cookies were inside, each

perfectly shaped and precise in

Armenian Reporter columnist Armen D.

Bacon is senior director for communications

and public relations for the Fresno

County Office. Ms. Bacon lives in Fresno,

California, and is a wife, mother, professional

woman, and writer. Since 2004,

her thoughts and reflections about life

have been published in the “Valley Voices”

section of The Fresno Bee as well as

the Armenian Reporter. She also writes,

produces, and hosts a radio series titled

“Live, Laugh, Love” on Fresno’s K-jewel

99.3 radio. She can be reached at

size. Aunt Rose informed me they

were called kurabias or shakareeshee

(shakar means sugar in Armenian).

She innocently (and quite generously)

offered me a taste. So began

my love affair with these heavenly,

mouth-watering delicacies. For the

next 30 years, I would hunt down

recipes to mimic this first memorable

and delicious experience.

Years passed. I tried recipe after

recipe, all quite unsuccessfully. Consistency

was off, the sweetness and

texture was impossible to replicate,

mine tended to have a crunchy and

unacceptable bite to them, quite

contrary to Auntie Rose’s rendition,

a secret family recipe, she had once

confided. Looking back, I understand

now why she hid them on the

top shelf of her kitchen cabinet.

One day, quite by accident, I was

at an Armenian function with my

husband’s side of the family, when

one of his aunties, Auntie Lorraine,

confessed that she, too, had

an obsession for these cookies.

But unlike me, she had stumbled

upon what she described as the

perfect recipe. To my delight, she

was happy to share it with me. I

carefully wrote down the five ingredients

and then quizzed her repeatedly

about the proper texture

of the dough, cooking temperature,

which rack seemed best suited for a

perfect outcome, and so on and so

forth. I wanted no detail spared. I

took incessant notes.

The next day, I began the arduous

task of baking the cookies. I

clarified the butter, measured out

ingredients and was ready to sift,

beat and roll. I could already taste

Aunt Rose’s kurabias, despite the

decades that had passed since I had

been in her kitchen. I whipped the

butters until their appearance was

likened to whipping cream. I slowly

added the sugar, patiently waiting

until the consistency was just

as Auntie Lorraine had described.

And then the final step – adding

the flour – almost 2 cups but not

so much that the dough might

crumble. She had suggested I close

my eyes and feel it with my soul

– it would be slightly wet but not

too sticky. I realize now that the

sensory talents of our ancestors

have somehow skipped my generation

and at this point I was praying

for a small miracle or divine

intervention. I hoped that Auntie

Rose might be gracing me with a

smile from heaven, cheering me on

in my desire to make her family’s

treasured cookies. I rolled out the

dough, cutting it at an angle, until

finally the cookies were ready to be

placed on the cookie sheet. As they

baked, the aroma filled my kitchen.

The moment of truth was about

to arrive. After they were sufficiently

cooled, I carefully lifted a

slightly disfigured one from the

tray, dusted it with powdered sugar

and bit into it. Melt-in-your-mouth

perfection. I had succeeded. Auntie

Lorraine’s recipe worked. Word

travels fast. I have since become

the “Kurabia Queen” of the Valley,

a title I wear proudly, after years

of practice and hundreds of pounds

of butter and sugar purchased

in the process. I am called on to

bake them for weddings, baptisms,

birthdays and holidays.

While this year’s Easter holiday

is not being celebrated at my house,

I am still baking my kurabias. If you

happen to be in the neighborhood,

drop by and let me offer you a cup

of coffee and a kurabia. I promise,

it will melt in your mouth.

From left, Gerard Libaridian, Mary Johnson, Ann Meade, and Richard Norsigian.

Metro Detroit committee promotes

Armenian Genocide awareness


to promoting awareness

of, and gaining U.S. recognition

for, the first genocide of the 20th

century, The Metro Detroit Armenian

Genocide Committee, in collaboration

with Facing History and

Ourselves, organized on March 25

the third educator’s workshop (in

Michigan) on the Armenian Genocide.

The Knights of Vartan, Detroit

Lodge, sponsored the project

initially conceived and sponsored

by Edgar Hagopian, local businessperson,

and his Hagopian Family


Richard Norsigian, a member of

the committee as well as a principal

in the South Lake School District,

coordinated the event with the

help of Kim Meade, Macomb Social

Studies Consultant. Educators

representing 13 school districts attended

the March 25th workshop

held at the Macomb Intermediate

School District offices.

Facilitor for the workshop Dr.

Mary Johnson, Senior Historian

for Facing History and Ourselves,

used text and video to present a

background on the “universe of

obligation” and segued into the

history of the Armenian Genocide.

Educators using the provided

resource materials were asked to

participate by posing scenarios and

voicing their ideas and opinions on

the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians

at the hands of the Ottoman

Turks from 1915-1923, and the response

at that time from the international

community. Dr. Johnson

then introduced guest speaker Dr.

Gerard Libaridian, who holds the

Alex Manoogian Chair in Modern

Armenian History at the University

of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Dr.

Libaridian also served as advisor

to Armenian President Levon Ter

Petrossian from 1991 to 1997.

Participants were reminded

of the Second Annual Armenian

Genocide Essay Competition open

to all Michigan Middle and High

School Students, sponsored by the

Hagopian Family Foundation with

cash awards for both the winning

student and the instructor.

The Metro Detroit Armenian

Genocide Committee members are

Edgar Hagopian, Edward Bedikian,

Ray Boujoulian, Corinne Khederian,

Paul Kulhanjian, Richard Norsigian,

David Terzibashian and Madeline


“The Armenian Genocide - a genocide

that is not reflected in our history

books and that on April 24,

2009, represents 94 years later, even

though 42 states and numerous foreign

governments have recognized

it, remains unacknowledged by the

U.S. Government and the successors

to the Ottoman Turk perpetrators,”

stated Mr. Hagopian.


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