“If an Armenian makes a serious face and says he will be VERY busy in the morning on a weekend, that means he is invited for Khash. Khash is a tradition and a dense soup of beef tripe and trotters, and seasoned in garlic. It is prepared overnight and served early in the morning upon sunrise with dried Lavash, the armenian bread. Other items to be served with khash include vegetables, and vodka. Khash was the food of the poor. It is made strictly from beef trotters which was the only piece of animal available after the wealthy obtained the richer parts of the cow. Having only dirty cow feet, the poor organized a great feast and celebration that eventually began to be noticed and used by the wealthy. Ultimately winning its way into the popular culture, the meal has won itself a great popularity and widespread acceptance. If you ever visit Armenia, don’t be shy when you’re invited for Khash! You will become a part of a memorable ritual! It is interesting to me because of its never-failing nature of bringing joy and laughter around a single table.”
The informant was born and raised in Armenia and moved to the United States when she was about fifteen years old. She told me that it was a complete culture shock for her, because everything seemed segregated and not in sync as the Armenian culture. We were discussing family gatherings during a lunch outing at an Armenian restaurant. She told me about this food called “Khash,” which happened to appear on the menu. She claimed it was a food for togetherness, which brings family and friends together on a random morning on a weekend that nobody can really say “no” to. It is often performed in Armenian households, because the people of Armenia can organize a feast by spending the least amount of money and enjoy it as a result.
Armenian children learn about this tradition from family, while organizing their first Khash weekend. It is interesting to her, because she claimed that she has developed senses to know when a day of Khash is coming. Anyone is invited regardless of social rank, and typically those who are invited will show up for the event. She made note that in preparation of Khash, the table is set with minimal silverware and eating utensils.
After hearing many forms of Armenian lore, there appears to be this recurring theme of communal ties. It is representative of most Armenian institutions, where restaurants often serve family style portions and churches are typically open to the public. Even though the majority of the Armenian community are geographically isolated, they seem to use folk foods and rituals to bind them spiritually. This is one of many instances where we find Armenian customs seeking to find some unity with their culture and people. Something that has been previously undervalued, such as Khash food, can be what binds the people of a nation together. I believe the whole preparation, rather than the food itself, has some significance in perpetuating togetherness among Armenians.