Reading List: Lavash at First Sight

Love is the most unexpected dish in this rom-com from Taleen Voskuni.

Reading List: Lavash at First Sight

The latest book from Taleen Voskuni is Lavash at First Sight.

We caught up with Voskuni for a behind-the-scenes look at her story of two women pitted against each other.

You've drawn inspiration from Romeo & Juliet for this story - Shakespeare didn't give his star-crossed lovers a particularly happy ending, do the women in Lavash At First Sight fare any better?

Much, much better thankfully!

Nazeli and Vanya find their happily ever after, quite alive.

Our relationship with food is fairly central to all cultures - in this story, it's the dilution of Armenian culture that's a point of narrative tension. Why was that aspect of the emigrant experience something that you wanted to explore with this story?

It all started with hummus. Actually, in Armenian, we pronounce it slightly differently, “hahm-os”, and we grew up eating it, always home made. It was one of the first foods I could make myself since you just pop it all into a food processor.

Hummus was not mainstream in the ‘90s and none of my non-Armenian friends knew what it was.

Then somewhere in the 2000s “hummus” became trendy and I remember my sister and cousin and I found it somewhat funny, odd, and mildly insulting when we saw things like “buffalo cauliflower hummus”. Honestly that does sound pretty good, but we felt our homemade food with roots in Lebanon had lost some of its specialness.

That was one feeling I was hoping to share in Lavash at First Sight. What do you lose when you repackage traditional cultural food for the health-food crowd?

What Armenian dishes would you cook for someone that you're trying to express your love to?

Several types of Armenian foods are labours of love. Sarma (or dolma) comes to mind but its slimy outer layer is not quite romantic.

I would choose manti, which is featured heavily in Lavash at First Sight. It’s a Western Armenian dish of mini dumplings, dough on the outside and open faced beef with spices on the inside, baked until crispy and topped with a garlic tomato-yogurt sauce.

In the book, Nazeli, the protagonist, notes that they look like little kisses.

Do you have to be a romantic person in order to be able to write romantic comedies?

I’m not sure actually! I can’t really speak for writers of the genre generally. I only know that I personally am exceptionally romantic.

As a little girl I would daydream scenes of rose-covered balconies, pining for a loved one riding in on a stallion.

I’ve somewhat changed my idea of romance over the years, but there is still nothing as fun to me as imagining that moment when two people truly fall for each other.

What do you hope that people feel when they're reading Lavash At First Sight?

Lavash is an upbeat book with some zany reality-style cooking competitions, so I hope readers enjoy the wild ride.

I hope it makes them smile or even laugh aloud, swoon in the romantic moments, and I hope some interest in Armenian culture is piqued too. 

Lavash at First Sight by Taleen VoskuniPan, Paperback, £9.99. Also available in eBook and Audio.

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