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Armenian Fest: Taste of the Mediterranean

Kebobs, hummus and more

Jul. 17, 2013
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Milwaukee is a Midwest melting pot. As such, our city does a great job in celebrating the many ethnicities and religious backgrounds of the people who live here. Everybody knows about the large lakefront festivals highlighting Milwaukee’s biggest immigrant populations. But what about the smaller groups? This year, consider checking out one of the more intimate gatherings, like Armenian Fest.

Armenia was once a much larger country than its contemporary borders indicate, stretching from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. Nestled now in a mountainous region, modern Armenia is partly surrounded by Iran and Turkey. After a horrific early-1900s genocide of Armenians, many survivors landed in Milwaukee, joining family and friends who immigrated here in the preceding years.

In the 1930s the local Armenian population began to hold an annual picnic to celebrate the food and music that make up their cultural heritage. Armenian Fest, as it’s called today, has grown significantly over the years and is now held on the grounds of St. John the Baptist Armenian Orthodox Church in Greenfield.

This year’s festival will feature some familiar foods like chicken and beef kebobs and some unfamiliar dishes such as Armenian “pizza” called lahmajoon, or boreg, thin layers of dough filled with cheese and spinach, then baked until golden brown. After finishing the savory treats, loads of homemade pastries and cookies will satisfy sweet cravings.

Live music and dancing throughout the day will bring the Armenian culture to life. For those who want to learn more about Armenia, visit the cultural booth showcasing artifacts and books about this civilization that dates back to the time of Mesopotamia.

Armenian Fest 2013 will be held Sunday, July 21, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. at 7825 W. Layton Ave. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit armenianfest.com.



Eaten throughout the eastern Mediterranean and Near Eastern countries, hummus is also considered an Armenian dish. Simple and inexpensive ingredients yield a flavorful, filling food. A member of Milwaukee’s Armenian community, Diana Keutelian, shares her authentic recipe for this popular dish available at Armenian Fest. 



1 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well

2 tbsp. tahini (sesame seed paste)

1/2 to 1 tbsp. lemon juice (as desired)

2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled (as desired)

Dash of salt 



1. Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor.

2. Puree until you reach a dip consistency. If it requires more liquid, add water by the tablespoon and/or lemon juice (to taste) as needed.

3. Spread the hummus on a platter or in a bowl, and decorate it sparingly with chopped parsley and paprika. You may drizzle a teaspoon of olive oil if desired. 

4. Serve with quartered pita bread and a side dish of sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers and green or black olives.


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