Los Angeles’s Armenian community, focused in East Hollywood and especially Glendale and its environs, gets its day on the small screen with Eater’s PBS show No Passport Required led by host Marcus Samuelsson.
In Monday’s episode, which airs at 9 p.m. (check local listings here), Samuelsson explores the Armenian diaspora and its various influences on LA’s community. Mainly how the Armenian cultural identity forged a path, persevered, and thrived here in Southern California despite the horrors of the genocide of the early 1900s.
In Los Angeles, the Armenian population took a foothold in East Hollywood, so it’s fitting that Samuelsson starts his exploration on Sunset Boulevard, learning about basturma with filmmaker and photojournalist Eric Nazarian at strip mall legend Sahag’s. They taste the cured beef specialty that originated in Kayseri, currently in Turkey but historically part of Armenia. Samuelsson then ventures over to Glendale, the current epicenter of the Armenian culture in America, at the humble Kozanian Ranch Market. The market stocks its shelves with some of the best food products from Armenia like sour cherries and pomegranate syrup, but also produces some of the finest lavash, or unleavened flatbread, in town.
The episode meanders through iconic Armenian bakery Papillon International Bakery and then to Mini Kabob, where Samuelsson meets the affable Martirosyan family and tries lule kebab, arguably the most iconic Armenian dish.
Samuelsson also focuses on the crux of the Armenian immigrant experience: diaspora throughout the world coupled with a congregation in Southern California — especially Glendale. Those mixing of cultures, with the basis of Armenia as cultural identity, provides the most compelling looks into today’s community in the greater Los Angeles area.
Now in its second season, No Passport Required also features episodes in Seattle, Houston, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, and Boston, with a focus in each city on a specific immigrant community and culture.
Watch the full episode on Monday, January 20, and watch a clip from the show below.
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