Family cookout from the “good old days”

My father and his Armenian relatives loved a good shish kebab cookout. I came across these old family photos, from the 50s I think, and thought I’d share them here. (I don’t have a scanner, so used my phone’s camera.) This would have taken place on the old property on Route 206 (where CVS is now), in the yard between my grandparents’ house and my parents’ house. The photos are on two types of paper, so not all of the same day. But I love the way the men get it all going, but when it’s time to take the meat off the grill, just look at the women jumping in! Wonder if they left any for the men? And after dinner, some backgammon for the men (while the women, no doubt cleaned up.) Recipe below.


Sam Bahadurian’s Shish Kebab

Lamb leg cut into largish pieces, 2 inches diameter (not the gristly part on shank end)

Onion sliced into 1/4-inch rings (Dad used lots)

Green peppers cut into squares (not my favorite, but red was a rarity back then)

Mushroom caps (sometimes)

Marinade: Red wine (or white), olive oil, paprika, oregano, salt & pepper

Rosemary came in later years, maybe thanks to my mother?

Marinate lamb and onion mixed together overnight; put on skewers with green pepper and mushrooms, and grill until medium rare. The Armenians tended to like their meat well done, but my discerning mother guided our family to medium rare.

10 thoughts on “Family cookout from the “good old days”

  1. We grew up on shish kebab. Loved it! The first time my brother tried it – at the age of about four – he took a bite and calmly said, “You eat that and you will die!” But it didn’t take him long to enjoy it as much as we all did. Great pictures, Faith.

  2. Faith, I delight in these memories and the photographs, as though hazed by memory and time. I wish you’d do more about your family’s cooking traditions — “attention must be paid!” Odd that you were moved to reminisce in this way, as cooking Kerr’s (spectacular white) corn the other night, plunged me back to childhood and trying with tiny hands to get the green part of the (yellow then) corn, that we always called ‘sweet corn’. Memories are beyond price. Thank you. c

    • Thanks Carolyn, I have done plenty on my family’s foodways over the years, any more and I think some sensible person would clap a hand over my mouth. 😄 The present, informed by the past, is what matters to me.

  3. I love the photographs! I think they were enjoying themselves no end. I had forgotten, if I ever knew, that the 2 families lived next door to one another. (And they call *us* helicopter parents!) Were they still doing that as you were growing up?

    • Yep, we had our own cozy village! I was a kid then, so I was probably running around somewhere, or trying to stay cool inside. Chances are that lamb had a name, too!

  4. Oh Faith!! If I had a nickel for every mouthful I had of Sam’s lamb kebabs I could buy a food column for you. He never used a grill, rather just a sheet of metal, real hardwood charcoal (not briquets), and that old rack he plunked down over the hot coals to hold the skewers. Amen re. red bell peppers vs green, but Mediterranean oregano, not Mexican. I droooool!

  5. Nice to have those family memories. Yes, life is different now and so is the food and the way we shared and ;made them happen. We lived in the city and had no cookouts; but my mother was an amazing cook and made fresh food, lots of raw salads, and Romanian recipes, especially in the summer with windows wide open. large wooden bowls with tossed salad – dark greens, the sizzle of garlic. Memories.

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