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ARMENIAN “PER PER” & Mahdzoon AHBOOR or Purslane & yogurt soup

A delicious and healthful “weed soup”. Chock full of heart healthy vitamins and minerals. You can’t eat much healthier than this!

A delicious succulent weed that is known to have its origins in the Middle East in the beginnings of the Armenian and Persian cultures. It was used not only as a food, but was widely used as a medicinal plant. You can learn more about this phenomenal weed by visiting Wikipedia Portulaca oleracea. As a young boy growing up around Fresno, California; my mother and most of my extended family would gather this plant(weed) off the blanks of irrigation ditches that watered the many vineyards of the San Joaquin Valley. It was used in a variety of Armenian dishes and was commonly called “Per Per”. It was scrambled with eggs as you would spinach or other greens, it was used as an ingredient in summer salads, it was consumed cooked or raw as an ingredient in cold yogurt soup. It was washed very carefully as it could have been in contact with the pesticides used in the growing of the grapes. It is a very succulent plant with a lemony sour taste. It has a refreshing flavor. The medicinal properties of the plant are almost endless. This description of purslane is leading up to a story of survival by a member of my extended family. One of my cousins, (now deceased) was in the United States Army before WWII started. He happened to be stationed in the Philippine Islands. He was taken prisoner by the Japanese, suffered through the “Bataan Death March," and shipped to a Japanese prison in Japan. There he endured forced labor on the Japanese docks unloading 200 pound sacks of sugar, confiscated by the Japanese army. The American prisoners of war were fed nothing by rice and very little of that. My cousin, a 200 pound fighting man, was reduced to a 110 pound emaciated laborer of skin and bones. One day he happened to look down and noticed this little plant that was growing in the damp soil at his feet. He immediately shouted out “per per”. He remembered his Armenian mother serving this up in so many of her dishes. In the remaining 3 years of his imprisonment, he and his fellow prisoners ate this weed and not only filled their bellies, but were nourished by all the essential vitamins and minerals the plant contained. The irony of this tale is that the Japanese guards were so amused by the vision of Americans reduced to eating the weeds in the yard, that they brought bushels of them and dumped them in front of their huts as you would feed pigs. What a joy to see the Americans eating weeds as a pig eats garbage. Little did they know that at least this group of men would survive their imprisonment and live to see victory and their families again. Per-Per or purslane supplied them with the nutrition that their bodies were badly lacking and miraculously prevented many life threatening diseases that could have resulted due to the lack of vitamins and minerals the body needs to fend off disease.



◼ 2 cups of yogurt, thinned with water to a heavy cream consistency. ◼ 1 cup chopped per-per or purslane **SEE COOKS NOTE**, washed and spun in a salad spinner 
◼ Your favorite hot sauce (optional) ◼ Salt and pepper to your taste DIRECTIONS:

1) Wash the per-per (purslane) well; to remove any dirt or pesticides. 2) Thin your yogurt with water and keep chilled. 3) Serve with Armenian cracker bread or pita crisps **COOKS NOTE** 1. You can go out and pick your own purslane or buy it from a good health food store. The photograph of the weed above should help immensely to recognize this wonderful weed.

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