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  • For the Love of Lavash

    Camera: Albert Tong, John Wetmore, Rameshwar Bhatt, Abigail Hendrix, Hannah Luc, Kaylie Connors
    Interview: Emma Cregan, John Wetmore
    Story and editing: Abigail Hendrix

    In Anna Tepanosyan’s hometown of Lusakert, Armenia, lavash is a ubiquitous flatbread, treasured by residents and travelers alike. For the past fifteen years, she has run her own home-based business, cooking lavash and gata (cake) in a traditional subterranean oven called tonir.

    This summer she brought her skills to Washington, D.C., continuing her daily work on a national stage at the Folklife Festival. There were some changes, of course—since our technical team couldn’t dig into the National Mall, they built a working platform above the tonir, which rested at ground level. From atop their perch, Tepanosyan and fellow bakers Gegham Gharibyan and Varduhi Poghosyan baked lavash all day while answering questions for the lines of curious, hungry visitors. And instead of selling their product in the market, the women piled up their freshly fired wares for passersby to try.

    “I never thought I’d be making be lavash in Washington, D.C.,” Tepanosyan laughed. “It’s a feeling I can’t even describe.”

    Elisa Hough is the editor for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

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