Monday, March 30, 2009

Eating in Yerevan

Eating in Yerevan was very similar to eating in any place you don't speak the language--you do a lot of pointing and laughing, and sometimes you just flat out guess and get lucky. On the flip-side sometimes your points result in a not-so-appetizing bowl of goo.

Due aforementioned issue with the Armenian alphabet we did most of our ordering off the English menu. What was comical was that the waiters and waitresses usually didn't speak much English. If Matt and I were on our own, it could be interesting. After a few days we sorta learned to get both menus, and then find the corresponding menu item (and hope it was in the same place, haha), and just point and say "Yes ozoum ___" and point at the item. Worked pretty well. "Yes ozoum", FYI means "I would like". I learned this phrase the first week and never let go of it, haha.

Some things that translate in all languages:

1. Vodka -- we're basically right next door to Russia, DUH.
2. Pizza Magherita -- universal for cheese pizza. Threw Hayk for loop however when we visited the Mexican restaurant and Jay ordered a Margarita and it came in a glass and had a greenish hue, haha. Hayk had never been to a Mexican restaurant, and yes, there was a good one in Yerevan (who knew, eh?)
3. Coke and Fanta. Say no more.
4. Tomato

As we were basically smack in the city center there were plenty of restaurants all around us. Down the street and a block over was a good pizza restaurant. There were several Italian restaurants scattered throughout. Down the street was a Thai and Indian restaurant, but I don't think we ever went there. Half a block down from our building was a decent Chinese restaurant, and the owner was delighted to have us there and introduced herself. Apparently the restaurant was new.

Our favorite Armenian restaurant was called Kavkas, which I think is a loose translation for "Caucasian" or "Caucasus" the mountain region which defines the area. Anyway, the food was great! A lot of fresh fish (which I love) and excellent taboule. It was located just one block away from our apartment.

A few times we ate at a REALLY good French restaurant just off Republic Square. The food was outstanding. Matt speaks French so we also had a complete understanding of the menu (for once, haha). The food was pricey for Yerevan, but we would've paid easily twice as much for the same meal in Paris so wins all around, no?

Shopping for food was a different story, haha. Grocery stores are much like European ones: every square inch of space crammed stuff. Add into that tight aisles and slippery slushy floors, and it can be interesting! The chain market for the city was called SAS, and the biggest store was a few blocks away from our apartment, so we went there for things like snacks and drinks and small items. Searching those out was relatively easy because most vegetables are self explanatory and snacks have a picture on them 90% of the time. Interestingly enough, most of the items were either German, French, or Russian. Very few things are apparently packaged for the Armenian market. We didn't cook cook very often (only twice IIRC) because:

1. There were so many great restaurants around us that we couldn't pass up -- probably the biggest reason
2. We had no dishwasher -- I hate washing dishes
3. The water situation we mentioned before not necessarily ensuring we could finish said dishes and get food glued onto bowls/plates/pots, though it was too cold for bugs
4. The water was FREEZING coming out of the tap
5. We didn't really have the utensils to cook the type of food we were used to cooking .

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