At every turn, an abundance of lavash and gata can be found in Armenia. This pride of Armenian gastronomy is as simple as it is unusually important for Armenian culture and history. Since ancient times, tonir (or tandoor), a cylindrical clay oven, has been used in Armenian cuisine to make bread. The bread is, like many other nations, holy and the most typical type of bread is lavash. This is unleavened bread made from wheat flour, water and salt. Because of this, lavash can last up to six months! Rarely does this happen, however, as the bread is so tempting that it disappears as soon as it is baked.
We also tried it in Garni, where the ancient temple is located not far from the baking facilities. With skilful hand gestures, the thin dough is placed on an elliptical pillow and sticked to the oven walls. Lavash is done almost in seconds. It looks very simply, but not quite so: it takes a great deal of skill and hundreds of thousands of prepared lavash to make this art as easy as a feather. Fresh lavash is, of course, excellent. In November 2014, the International Commission for the Conservation of Intangible Heritage included the Armenian baking of lavash in the list of humanity's intangible heritage. This made this bread a symbol of Armenian culture and an indescribable pride of Armenians.
In the same tonir, gata is also made. This is a favourite Armenian dessert made from butter, flour and fermented dairy products called matsun, and stuffing is made from butter and sugar and sometimes nuts. In the old days, families gathered after the gata was baked. The head of the family, the grandfather, started telling old stories and legends, but only after everyone had eaten their gata.
It is a fascinating Armenia tendency to combine flavours, so sweet gata is often eaten with tan, sour milk, to which milk yeast, spring water and salt are added. Gata is so popular among Armenians that they have a festival dedicated to this dessert, and modern combinations build on classic craftsmanship. Each gata is, of course, special and everyone will compete in its production. It is impossible to visit Armenia without at least one gata in the hands of visitors, which we have experienced many times!