Travel Foodie

Article by Ekaterina, Russia, UWCD'19

A subtle sense of taste, savory smells coming from the kitchen, family gatherings around a roundtable... All this is connected with food. Not only is food something that gives people a sense of satisfaction, but for me, food is an art and a passion.

At home, I could not imagine a day without baking or cooking something special to amaze and treat my family and friends. I was always in a search for unique recipes that are unfamiliar to my relatives and city. The practicing of basic techniques and development of culinary skills was a long and tough process. Successes, failures, disappointments, spoiled ingredients, broken mixers and blenders contributed to making me more patient and calm.

Wishing to expand my amateur skillset, I began attending a lot of culinary master-classes in Moscow. Watching the chefs and pastry-chefs skillfully mixing different ingredients for extraordinary dishes, professionally kneading the dough for flavored buns and glazing modern desserts with an amazing mirror glaze made me even more interested in this hobby. After a while, I began taking on full responsibility for preparing the table for our family holidays, birthdays, Christmas and New Year. My mother and grandmother realized that I had exceeded them, and in despair or in happiness entrusted the kitchen to me. Guests were coming to our house, irrespective of whether it be an on a weekday or a holiday could rest reassured that we would always have something delicious and a delicious cup of tea.

In admiring the Instagram pages of Linda Lomelino (@callmecupcake), Beth Kirby (local_milk), Nora Eisermann and Laura Muthesius (_foodstories_), I became interested in a special branch of art - food photography. Luckily, I was raised in a creative environment and acquired a natural sense of style. Constantly asking for advice from my father, who is a photographer, collector and simply a person dedicated to art, helped me greatly in developing my skills in this area.

When I came to UWC Dilijan, I realised that I would not have as much time to devote to my main hobby. However, cooking Tiramisu with Elena from Italy and Butter Chicken with Anumapa from India brought me joy and brought me back to my small, cozy kitchen in my old house.

Before coming to Armenia, I knew that Armenian cuisine is one of the most unique ones in the whole world. Сenturies-old history, rich culture, traditions and the hospitality of this country have a strong connection with the region’s cuisine. I was eager to learn more culinary secrets from locals. That is why, having been passionate about the culinary world for many years, I decided to launch my own project in UWC Dilijan that would respond to my hobby. Having found several people with similar ideas, we created a project called “Travel Foodie”. Our project aims to "travel" to different restaurants and cafés in Dilijan, organising culinary master-classes which will reveal the secrets of the most popular and special dishes and methods of how to cook them. The master-classes are led by professional chefs with an impeccable sense of taste and incredible experience. Each participant has his or her own equipment and set of ingredients, which allow them to apply recently acquired knowledge in practice. Through taking part in master-classes and gaining experience, our participants become "foodies" - people with a particular interest in food, or "gourmets". Visiting local places and engaging with Dilijanians, our students become more familiar with Armenian culture and traditions.

By this time, we have already organised 3 successful master-classes. The last one was in the coziest place in Dilijan – B&B Toon Armeni. Fresh spring air, warming sun's rays, open fire… Together with kind, constantly smiling and positive 72-year-old grandmother, who is always willing to share her experience with young generations, locals and students were cooking traditional Armenian mountain dessert – Sali. It was so pleasurable to see people really enjoying the whole process of cooking - starting from preparing the dough till tasting recently taken from the fire freshly dish with a cup of hot tea. Both our organization-team and participants spent amazing time together in a nice and home atmosphere.

I will definitely develop “Travel Foodie” Project, but now I am full of new ideas. Whether be a new summer menu for the youth Café#2, a modern Armenian culinary cookbook or more grandiose projects such as “Open Kitchen” or local culinary-school, I am not sure yet, but I am looking forward to applying my passion and dedication to the food world in the future.