How many of you remember reading William Saroyan in school? His essay Locomotive 38, The Ojibway, appeared in our class 11th or 12th (I can’t remember which) CBSE textbook. That was the start of my lifelong love affair with Saroyan. I’ve always repented for not saving those textbooks as literary gems in my library

William Saroyan was born in America in 1908. He came from a family of exiled Armenian immigrants who lived in poverty in Fresno, California. He was not interested in studies but even as a young child he nurtured a secret ambition to be a writer. His determination didn’t falter through the depression years. In 1933 his story The Daring Young Man On The Flying Trapeze was chosen by Story, a national magazine, and he received fifteen dollars for it. More stories were printed that year and by 1934 Random House had published The Daring Young Man On The Flying Trapeze And Other Stories. Saroyan had arrived on the literary scene and was causing quite a stir!

Saroyan wrote many books in his lifetime but my favorite one is definitely My Name Is Aram which was published in the year 1940, and like most of his books was largely autobiographical, about his eccentric and colorful fellow Armenians in his hometown during his childhood.

William Saroyan’s style of writing was unorthodox which he worked on a great deal to develop. It reflected his zest for life, his joy with his people and his surroundings and his humor, and this style eventually came to be known as Saroyanesque.

Saroyan wrote not only stories but also plays that became famous and opened on Broadway.

The film based on his story The Human Comedy won an Oscar.

Saroyan died in 1981. I was only eleven years old. I wish I had lived in his times.

Arto Der Haroutunian was an Armenian architect, painter and restaurateur, famous in his own right, who opened his restaurant in London in 1970. He wrote cookbooks too. His restaurant was the watering hole for many fellow Armenians of his time, one among them being the famous Saroyan.

This recipe is from his cookbook Vegetarian Recipes From The Middle East. It is a delicious Armenian pasta recipe called Banirov Arsha or macaroni with cheese.

Banirov Arsha or macaroni with cheese

An Armenian lunchtime favorite.

  • 1 egg
  • 5 tbsps finely chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tspn salt
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 6 tbspns melted butter
  • 225 gms cheese, ex. Haloumi, Kashkaval or Cheddar
  • 225 gms macaroni
  1. Mix the egg, parsley, salt, pepper, garlic and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter together in a bowl. Add the grated cheese, mix well and keep aside.

  2. In a large vessel boil some lightly salted water. Add the macaroni and cook till done, approximately 10 minutes. Strain into a colander and rinse under hot water. Mix 2 tablespoons of butter into the macaroni.

  3. Grease an ovenproof dish about 9 inches(22.5 cms) in diameter and spread half the macaroni into the bottom of the dish. Spread two-thirds of the cheese mixture over the macaroni and top with the remaining macaroni. Spread the remaining cheese over the top and sprinkle with the remaining butter. Place in the centre of the oven preheated to 400degrees F/ 200 degreesC/ Gas 6 and bake for 20 to 30 minutes.

  4. Cut into squares and serve hot.

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