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From lula kebab to ghapama: Armenian cuisine to be featured in new PBS series

No Passport Required with Marcus Samuelsson, which explores the food and communities of America’s immigrant neighborhoods,  kicks off season 2 on PBS January 20 with the premiere episode featuring L.A.’s Armenian community and cuisine, L.A. Weekly reports.

The Ethiopian-born chef raised in Sweden journeys from East Hollywood to Glendale, visiting Phoenicia Restaurant, Mideast Tacos, Papillon International Bakery, Sahag’s Basturma among others meeting Armenians from Russia, Lebanon, Syria, Ethiopia and Egypt. From lula kebab to ghapama (pumpkin stuffed with apricots, rice and Aleppo peppers,) Samuelsson explores the rich Armenian history passed down from generations in L.A.’s foothills in the series co-produced with Eater.

“I discovered how extremely diverse the community is, whether it’s Persian Armenian or Turkish Armenian,” the New York-based Samuelsson told L.A. Weekly.

“It has so many geographically different entry points – which also means bringing a lot of different traditions together and says a lot about the strength of the community and their commitment to holding on to these traditions. I had some of the most delicious food and best conversations and saw how deeply proud these people are to be both Angelenos and Armenian,” he added.

The premiere highlights the combination of younger chefs born in Los Angeles, blending new ingredients and techniques with traditional Armenian rituals passed down to them by their grandparents.

“You have the young caterer who is walking a walk between traditional Armenian food and ingredients you might find in French restaurants, balancing between rituals and spices and traditions,” Samuelsson said.

Other upcoming episodes will journey to Houston for West African food, the Italian American community in Philadelphia and the Chinese community of Las Vegas. Samuelsson will also venture to the greater Boston area to learn more about the Portuguese, Brazilian, and Cape Verdean diasporas.

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