Any traveller to Armenia will have tried lavash some point. The paper thin bread may appear to be a simple concoction of water and flour, seasoned with salt and sometimes topped with poppy seeds or sesame. The ingredients may be easy to get hold of, but making lavash requires a good deal of dexterity, skill, coordination and expertise, not to mention the right kind of oven!

What means lavash for Armenians? Is it just bread or it is something special? We can surely insist on that today Armenians are very proud of their heritage.

Traditionally made by a small group of women, the dough is dealt out in small balls, which are rolled out into thin discs that are then stretched out on an oval cushion that is then slapped against the hot oven wall. The oven bears resemblance to a well, and the high temperature means the bread only needs 30 seconds to a minute of cooking time against the hot clay wall.

Not only is the lavash bread an integral part of Armenian cuisine, a household staple that can even be kept up to six months, it also plays a ritual role in Armenian culture. At weddings, the flatbread is placed on the couple’s shoulders as a lucky charm to bring about prosperity and fertility.

But it is not only the superstition behind the bread that plays a role in the local community, but also the fact that lavash has to be prepared as a group makes it a tool to strengthen family and community ties, where young girls serve the older women as aides in the bread making experience. While the women are in charge of making the bread, the men are charged with building the clay ovens and oval cushions, where these making skills are passed down from father to son traditionally.

Lavash has made it into UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage for Armenian culture. It’s not only the bread’s unique role in Armenian cuisine, but also the unusual technique for producing it coupled with the role lavash plays in the community that has influenced the local culture. Lavash is a bread, which to many, is

The inclusion of lavash onto the list makes it Armenia’s fourth listing on the UNESCO cultural heritage list, with khachkars, cross stones, the music of the duduk and the national epos “David Sasunsky”.