Mayrig: Where authentic Armenian flavors meet family recipes

Updated 30 May 2012
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Mayrig: Where authentic Armenian flavors meet family recipes

It all started in the town of Jabal Moussa, Armenia, when Manouchag, an Armenian grandmother, who though was not rich or famous, had one particular talent that set her aside from any other grandmother in the town; Manouchag was a fantastic cook.
Manouchag, Armenian for violet eyes, was a little girl when a big war broke out in her native country forcing her to set sail to Cyprus. She grew up in a children’s home, where she stayed until she graduated from high school. She then moved to Lebanon where she met her future husband. They both lived in a beautiful mansion overlooking the sea in Ayn Mreisseh, where she raised her six children.
Manouchag used her cooking skills to quiet down her grandchildren, asking them to help her in the kitchen; her mission was to create wonderful Armenian dishes for her family. She was extra careful in guarding her secret recipes. However, she made one important exception: her children and grandchildren.
Manouchag inspired her grandchildren to start a business to celebrate her talent. They opened a restaurant that serves traditional Armenian cuisine and named it Mayrig. The restaurant was born in Beirut with an army of professional mothers working as chefs and using only Manouchag’s ancient recipes.
In February 2011, Mayrig opened its second branch in Jeddah. The restaurant is located in a small villa overlooking King Road and the Andalus Street. The exterior of the villa is done in Armenian style — with wood, stones and marble. Inside is a two-story restaurant: The ground floor serves only men while the second floor is for families. The interior of the restaurant is colorful with walls made of beige rocks and wood and Syrian-designed marble floors. Mayrig can seat 250 diners at once and 50 diners in the terrace area.
The menu comprises a range of authentic Armenian dishes. Among their fresh salads is Itch, an Armenian tabouleh made with buckwheat, onion, tomatoes and parsley. The dish is eaten with cabbage leaves as serving spoons. Sempougov salad is a cold eggplant salad with onion, tomatoes, parsley and lemon and olive oil dressing. Vospi salad is a lentil salad with chopped onions, tomatoes and pomegranate vinegar sauce, eaten with crispy bread, and it is highly recommended here.
For cold entrees, Derevov Sarma is a dish made with zesty vine leaves wrapped around juicy rice mix. The Mayrig Selection is highly recommended, which is a dish of kebbe with lentils served with chopped white onion and olive oil. Kebbe with potatoes is served with chopped tomatoes, onion and parsley while the raw meat kebbe is served with minced meat, onions and pine nuts.
In the category of hot entrees, on offer are different appetizing dishes such as Gdzou Patates, consisting of diced, spicy fried potatoes. Sou Beureg is a layered pastry made with three kinds of cheeses. Soujok Fekhara that is made with Armenian beef sausage with tomato sauce is cooked and served in pottery.
As for the main course, Mayrig serves authentic Armenian dishes cooked with Armenian spices and baked in pottery. Mante is a minced meat dumpling cooked in a stone oven. Tomato sauce and yogurt is added when serving the dish. Fishnah Kebab is another popular dish here and consists of a grilled kebab dish topped with wild sour cherries and french bread.
Tika Kebab is a diced beef grilled in skewers and served with diced fried potatoes and salad. Missov Frikeh is another recommended dish made with Frikeh pilaf, beef and topped with wild sour cherries.
Every good meal has to have a sweet ending. For dessert, diners should try the Armenian style walnut pakhlava or Achtalieh, which is a milk pudding topped with pistachios and served in a pottery jar. Anouch ser, a sweet rolled pastry filled with cream, is a smart choice too.
The restaurant offers Shisha indoors and outdoors for its diners.
Expect to pay: SR150 to SR200 per person.
Opening hours: From 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. on weekends
and from 1 p.m. to 12 a.m. on weekdays.


Worth the sting: Cuba’s scorpion pain remedy

Farmer Pepe Casanas poses with a scorpion in Los Palacios, Cuba, December 5, 2018. Picture taken December 5, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Worth the sting: Cuba’s scorpion pain remedy

  • In Cuba, where tens of thousands of patients have been treated with Vidatox, each vial costs under a dollar
  • The scorpions are caught in the wild as Labiofam workers believe their venom — which is not dangerous — is not as potent when raised in captivity

HAVANA: Once a month for the last decade, Pepe Casanas, a 78-year-old Cuban farmer, has hunted down a scorpion to sting himself with, vowing that the venom wards off his rheumatism pains.
His natural remedy is no longer seen as very unusual here.
Researchers in Cuba have found that the venom of the blue scorpion, whose scientific name is Rhopalurus junceus, endemic to the Caribbean island, appears to have anti-inflammatory and pain relief properties, and may be able to delay tumor growth in some cancer patients.
While some oncologists abroad say more research is needed to be able to properly back up such a claim, Cuban pharmaceutical firm Labiofam has been using scorpion venom since 2011 to manufacture the homeopathic medicine Vidatox.
The remedy has proven popular.
Labiofam Business Director Carlos Alberto Delgado told Reuters sales were climbing 10 percent annually. Vidatox already sells in around 15 countries worldwide and is currently in talks with China to sell the remedy there.
In Cuba, where tens of thousands of patients have been treated with Vidatox, each vial costs under a dollar. On the black market abroad it can cost hundred times that — retailers on Amazon.com are seen selling them for up to $140.
“I put the scorpion where I feel pain,” Casanas said while demonstrating his homemade pain relief with a scorpion that he found under a pile of debris on the patch of land he cultivates in Cuba’s western province of Pinar del Rio.
After squeezing it long enough, it stung him and he winced.
“It hurts for a while, but then it calms and goes and I don’t have any more pain,” he said.
Casanas, a leathery-skinned former tobacco farmer who now primarily grows beans for his own consumption, said he sometimes keeps a scorpion under his straw hat like a lucky charm.
It likes the shade and humidity, he says, so just curls up and sleeps.

FROM FARM TO LAB
In a Labiofam laboratory in the southern Cuban city of Cienfuegos, workers dressed in scrubs and hairnets tend to nearly 6,000 scorpions housed in plastic containers lined up on rows of metal racks.
Every few days they feed and water the arachnids that sit on a bed of small stones. Once a month, they apply an 18V electrical jolt to their tails using a handcrafted machine in order to trigger the release of a few drops of venom.
The venom is then diluted with distilled water and shaken vigorously, which homeopathic practitioners believe activates its “vital energy.”
The scorpions are caught in the wild as Labiofam workers believe their venom — which is not dangerous — is not as potent when raised in captivity.
After two years of exploitation in the “escorpionario,” they are released back into the wild.
Dr. Fabio Linares, the head of Labiofam’s homeopathic medicine laboratory who developed the medicine, said Vidatox stimulates the body’s natural defense mechanisms.
“After four to five years (of taking it), the doctor whose care I was in told me that my cancer hadn’t advanced,” said Cuban patient Jose Manuel Alvarez Acosta, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2008.
Still, Labiofam recommends Vidatox as a supplemental treatment and says it should not replace conventional ones.