People Always Ask About the Food

Team dinner was always a special event. The team of teachers in Suly would share a meal together while Skyping with the SGI team in Nashville. It was not only a time of fellowship, but of relaying news, solving problems and just keeping in touch. I got to be part of one while visiting Iraq, but it was an even bigger event than usual because the Nashville team was visiting as well as myself. There was discussion of what kind of meal to have and recipe books came out and were pored over. We decided on an Indian feast. Then shopping.

Not every store we went to had the required ingredients, so we went to several, but the bazaar had the most stunning array of spices – all out in the open, arranged in very carefully shaped pyramids of every color, sold bulk, by weight. No just buying curry powder for these folks, all of the separate spices in whole fashion were ground and blended to get it just right. I am not even sure you could find all of the specifics in some places in the US. Everyone was involved in the cooking process, chopping and peeling, but the counter space was literally non-existent. The top of the dishwasher was used and the table (a three-foot plastic patio table) was all that was available.

To be fair, there was a large wooden table on order that just hadn’t arrived yet. The Kurds sit on the floor to do many things, so we ended up doing some of that for the cooking as well. I don’t even remember what most of the dishes were called, but I do remember the joyous meal shared while the school was discussed, everyone’s health checked on, and small gifts from the US were dispensed. Bringing gifts was a fun part of visiting Iraq.

Another Really Odd Thing

I also remember that chickens were everywhere around my daughter’s neighborhood, not kept in coops as most places back home, but just running around in the streets and mostly in the vacant lots. I am not sure if they were a backup meat supply in case of hard times, but surely the eggs must have been difficult to find. I didn’t actually see many hens or chicks, but when I did they were always trotting along at a good clip with determined looks on their feathery faces. Then there were these two roosters, that were ever present on the corner down from the “tangerine tower” that was my daughter’s home. They just stood around on the corner by the small neighborhood store and loitered. They sort of strutted in small circles and acted like this was “their” spot. I found them endearing.

She was raising chickens on the roof. That ended up not working out long term, but was a fun experiment all the same.

(Read parts One, Two, and Three!)