Gruel. Slop. Porridge. Mush. Images from a Charles Dickens' novel where orphans survive on one pot meals that pour into their little eating bowl all too infrequently. Usually eaten with a spoon. Closer to home this dish reminds me of my dad's hot oatmeal that he ate every morning for breakfast. A thick grey amorphous mass, not very appealing, but tasty with milk and sugar and perhaps even nutritious (the oatmeal).
Herriseh is a traditional Armenian recipe that even finds its way into a famous historical phrase connected with their often precarious status in the north Middle East. The traditional production method is somewhat dependent on having a homebound cook, since it takes about 7 hours of stovetop attention to execute. Isgouhi, perhaps slightly influenced by American attitudes about really excessive time intensive home activities (but only slightly), cuts this time considerably using a pressure cooker. Though Paul's favorite, ms_ani has resisted the dish for years until bob got interested and repeatedly insisted that she have some. Now she almost likes it, a decided improvement. It is not the most attractive meal in the pot or on your plate, but it is pretty tasty nonetheless. And good for you.
Herriseh is made with another whole grain, shelled wheat, also called "skinless whole grain wheat", which is an uncooked hulled wheat (dzedzadz) that is available in Armenian food products stores, but which can be substituted by barley (pearl barley) in desperation. In contrast cracked wheat (bulgur = tzavar) is a cooked wheat which is dried and ground into four sizes (1: fine, 2: medium, 3: big, 4 or half-cut: bigger). All this useful information comes from a pair of really good Armenian cookbooks recently acquired in the herriseh research effort. For some time bob never realized this was almost his highly prized barley in disguise (that he rarely seems to eat in spite of his desire for it) since after the cooking treatment it gets, the individual grains disintegrate.