Rachael Ray Reflects On 'Especially Meaningful' Visit To Armenia

Armenia and the Mediterranean diet of dishes unique to this region are inseparable. According to travel blog Wander Lust, the smell of marinated beef, lamb, and pork can be found at local street carts, barbecued on skewers. And then are all those baked dumplings known as manti, along with recipes that use eggplant and tomatoes, traditional dolma — vine leaves filled with rice, spices, and other ingredients — a food that's been around since the Ottoman empire (via Ranelle Kirchner), and, of course, delicious hummus. Armenia offers visitors a rich variety of delicious foods to nosh on, but that wasn't the focus of celebrity cook Rachael Ray's recent trip to the country.

Per People, Ray's first stop was Ukraine to help out the organization Ukraine Friends, which supports displaced families due to Russia's invasion. Ray shared several photos from her experience and observed, "This is incredible that everyone's life is reduced to this — putting your whole world into some plastic bags." But, before making her way back to the good old U.S.A., Ray made her way to the Country of Stones and shared in an Instagram Story her thoughts and reflections from her journey.

Rachael Ray's trip gave her hope

Rachael Ray shared an emotional Instagram Story, writing, "I've always wanted to visit Armenia, but it feels especially meaningful to have come now... encountering so many Russians here who have fled Russia and fear for the safety of family members who remain there. Being here completes a circle in my experience — between Poland, Ukraine and Armenia...these people and places show that the world is still filled with love and compassion, and that more people want peace than war...and it has given me hope."

People revealed that Ray's foundation donated 1,000 first aid kits to help support frontline workers in Ukraine. Ray is one of several celebrity chefs who has visited Eastern Europe and provided assistance to people in this war torn region. Other members of America's culinary elite providing support to refugees from this region include Jose Andrés whose World Central Kitchen recently partnered with Stoli vodka to raise a glass and money for Ukraine, as well as Marc Murphy and Jessica Seinfeld. Per TODAY, other chefs have also joined the efforts, with the likes of chefs Tim Ma and Kevin Tien hosting a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. to help Andrés' nonprofit.