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Mаry Mamyan

'Armenia is a Simple and Easy Country': Tales of an Italian Chef in Yerevan

It's due to his profession that Italian chef Cristian Casimiro Sciortino found himself in Armenia. He is convinced that his profession chose him and not the other way around: at 17, when he began to study cooking, he understood that this is what he really wants to be doing.

In Armenia, People Feel Alone

Before coming to Armenia, Cristian  worked with an Armenian colleague in Italy. When his colleague decided to open an Italian restaurant in Yerevan, he suggested the Italian chef come with him to Armenia for a few months.

At the time, Cristian also had an offer to go to Germany, where he had worked before. But he decided to come to Armenia, and he now works as the chef at a newly opened Italian restaurant in downtown Yerevan.

Prior to arriving to Armenia in September 2013, he didn't even know where Armenia was on the map. When his mother found out that he was going to Armenia, she reacted negatively: she didn't want her son going to a country that's "in the region of Iran, Iraq, and Turkey." Cristian says people in Italy don't have a very good opinion of this region. For work, they prefer going to other countries in Europe, the US, and China.

After living in Armenia for a few months, Cristian was convinced that "Armenia is a simple and easy country." Apart from that, for him, everything is cheap here — he constantly compares prices here with those in Europe. "Life is easy here if you've come from Europe because it's not dangerous here; it's peaceful; you don't have problems with people," he says. "But I think for Armenians it's hard here because the salaries are low while life is expensive."

Though Cristian hasn't managed to travel around Armenia, he's noticed that people here aren't happy, for various reasons — beginning from family to work. "In my opinion, people think that the government doesn't help them and they feel alone," he says. 

The Italian Chef Became Engaged in Armenia

Cristian confesses that Armenia changed his life. Here he's become calmer, and he's begun thinking about not only his work, but also the future. He met his fiancee Astghik in Yerevan. When he told his parents that he met and became engaged to an Armenian woman, his father was happy, while his mother was quite surprised because she knew that in the past her son never thought about having a serious relationship with anyone.

"My mother said, it turns out that you had to go to another country to find a girlfriend," recalls Cristian. "But she's happy that I'm happy."

Italian Man Believes the Mafia Will Never Be Defeated

Cristian came to Armenia from the Italian city of Udine, which is about 130 km from Venice. He and Astghik   are planning to go to Italy in March, to meet Cristian's family. Then they'll return to Armenia. Cristian has already met his fiancee's family here. Cristian's father is Sicilian and before moving to Udine, his family lived in Sicily. When talk turned to the Italian mafia, Cristian said he's never had any dealings with the mafia. But his father, who's a police officer, has come in contact with members of the mafia. He remembers, 12–14 years ago, when they still lived in Sicily, there were more serious issues tied to the mafia and there were more killings. 

"I think, the mafia will never be defeated — perhaps one half of the game, but never the [entire] game," he's convinced. 

In Cristian's opinion, the mafia is powerful and everywhere, and the mafia decides the country's rules of the games. Even half-jokingly, half serious he says that the mafia in Armenia is ten times more powerful, though he's not familiar with the goings-on here.

Comments (4)

Astxiki baxte berela, mi xoskov......pasta, ravioli,lazagnia, pesto,marinara. Baxtavor linen.
I love Italian food but the ONLY problem is you are hungry again 12 days later...Belch.
I've been to Italy in 1982. I love Italy. Very friendly and nice people. They've thought I was Italian, too.
I'm sure he's happy in Armenia, it's the first place in his life where a girl talked to him probably and plus decided to be with him :D.. ahhhh my beloved Hayastan,

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