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About The Music

The process of finding music for these Hidden Kitchen stories always has some twists. I went to return a record to TV producer and record collector Harry Bernstein and was met at the door by him, his mother-in-law, and his dog, Anoush — it means "sweet" in Armenian, he told me. I started telling them about the Birth of Rice-A-Roni and its Armenian pilaf roots. Harry told me his mother-in-law is Armenian, and is always making yogurt. He also said he had a pile of Armenian records we could borrow for the story.

On another front, we had recently been gathering music for our Parsi Hidden Kitchen story, Sugar in the Milk, and we'd been listening to a lot of exquisite Persian music from the World Village collection. The song "Mama," from Endless Vision, a collaboration between the Armenian duduk player Djivan Gasparyan and Hossein Alizadeh, was especially haunting, but there was no place for it in Niloufer King's piece. In this story, it fit like a glove.

Record producer and world music archivist, Joe Boyd, also had a deep stack of Armenian music for us to cull through. "Tears of Dignity" and "Uscila" by Arto Tuncboyaciyan both come from his collection of 30,000 records.

While digging around for songs for the Italian-American pasta part of this story, like the crazy organ solo in Rosemary Clooney's Mambo Italiano, we discovered that novelist William Saroyan and fellow Armenian Ross Bagdasarian (who later created The Chipmunks), wrote "Come On-a My House," based on an old Armenian children's rhyme.

As the song goes: "Come on a My House, I'm gonna give you candy. Come on a my house, I'm gonna give a you apple a plum and apricot-a too...Figs and dates and grapes and cakes...marriage ring and a pomegranate too ah..."

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