Hamov Eh | All photos by Sierra Quiros
Valley Cottage native Sierra Quiros brings her Armenian food experience to farmers’ markets across Westchester County.
Sierra Quiros speaks very little Armenian. What tethers her to her culture and ancestry is a very simple phrase, historically muttered by her grandmother while hovering over a plate of food: “Hamov eh?” Pronounced ha-mohv-ay, it means “delicious” in Armenian and would become the backbone of Quiros’ expression of that part of herself.
Stagnant and drained from the pandemic, Quiros looked for something that she not only loved but that could also bring her peace. “My best memories of my grandma are of her in the kitchen. She was also a former belly dancer, so when music would come on, you’d see her do a little shimmy,” says Quiros. “I wanted to take that same passion and energy and turn it into something.”
Quiros’ family fled the city of Smyrna, now located in present-day Turkey, in 1920, just before it was burned to the ground by the Ottoman Empire. Growing up, Quiros would join her grandmother Frieda, flitting around the kitchen while listening to stories of Quiros’ great-grandmother, Saya, who was an incredible cook and healer.
Quiros and Hamov Eh began making appearances at Westchester County farmers’ markets in June of 2021. In fact, before her inaugural market, in Chappaqua, she spent 22 hours straight cooking and packaging all her spreads. Inspired by traditional Armenian ingredients and flavor profiles, her spreads come in three different flavors: parsley and tahini; red pepper and walnut; and walnut and date. “I was terrified,” shares Quiros. “I kept thinking, What if nobody buys anything?” Her fears shattered in front of her within the first hour of her booth being open, and after a good word in the newsletter from Morning Glory Markets founder Pascale Le Draoulec, Hamov Eh sold out in its first market.
In addition to the spreads, Quiros also serves zhingalov hats at her booth, an Armenian flatbread filled with greens and herbs. It is truly a family affair; her father, whom she describes as the “cooking master,” serves as head baker for the hats.
For those of Armenian descent, pumping blood back through a heritage that was nearly exterminated in the Armenian Genocide can be a labored task spanning generations. Hamov Eh is Quiros’ love letter to her Armenian experience. It is an effigy to her grandmother that instilled in her the expression of devotion through food and a shining beacon of memory for her family, which escaped unspeakable horror to keep their culture alive. “One of the biggest moments for me was seeing my name on someone’s grocery list,” says Quiros. “Someone had come here specifically to get my product. It felt like all the hard work and sacrifices were worth it. And I know it would have made my grandma proud.”
Look out for Hamov Eh products at your local farmers’ markets this spring and follow them on Instagram.