May the Georgian culinary specialists not be offended, but the Georgian churchkhela is not similar to what Armenians call “sharots.”
Sharots has been made in Armenia in ancient times. This sweet’s cooking process has unique features that affect its taste.
In order to find out what the basis of Armenian cuisine is, we will go back to those times when our ancestors were building magnificent castles along with impregnable, powerful fortresses.
Our fortresses have always been built in the most inaccessible and strategically advantageous areas, using various construction tricks that ensured near impregnability. The capture of such fortresses as only possible if one of the Nakharars betrayed his compatriots, allowing the enemy to easily take control of the citadel of Armenians.
With fortresses that wouldn’t give in, the enemy had only one option – to encircle the territory and wait until a famine started, which would supposedly force the Armenians to send ambassadors to conclude a truce or surrender altogether. However, even here, our enemies have always faced an unpleasant turn of events.
Armenians could sit for years in surrounded fortresses and not know hunger. There are cases when fortresses have been besieged for 4 years. Eventually, fatigued and having suffered heavy losses, the enemy would leave empty-handed.
You may ask – how could a whole city that is cut off from the outside world survive for several years? The secret is that the Armenians had learned to make nutritious products that could be stored for years while preserving their original taste.
One example of such food is lavash, our kind of bread… Armenian women from several families would gather together every autumn and bake stock of lavash for 2-3 years. Lavash would be stored wrapped in a clean cloth, and immediately before use, it would be sprinkled with water and turned into fresh, seemingly freshly baked lavash.
Basturma is dried meat with a lot of spices that follows the same principle. If dried well, the meat again becomes hard as a rock and can be stored for years, and nothing will happen to it.
Before eating, you need to wrap it in a wet cloth for a day. The meat will take on moisture and become a little softer, the way it should be.
Another similar food is sujukh, which is made from whatever scrap meat was left from basturma. It is chopped, pickled with spices, stuffed into an intestine, pressed, and dried in the same way, and the result is the same.
As for sharots, it is stringed nuts in grape juice. Sharots are highly nutritious and can also be stored for years.