I haven't had the opportunity to eat in a local restaurant or at an Iraqi's house yet, although I hope to before I leave. However, I did get to eat some authentic Iraqi food the past few days. On Thursday, two friends of mine went to an Iraqi restaurant that is off base. They had leftovers and shared them with me. There was shaved lamb, Iraqi pickles, something like pico de gallo, sautéed peppers, a rice dish, and, the staple of any Iraqi meal, pita bread. We made kebabs, aka sandwiches, with all the fixings. Fantastic. One of my friends, Sara, kept tearing off pieces of bread, picking up lamb with them, and then putting hummus on top. Delicious, but she kept giving them to me and pretty soon I was stuffed. Although the DFAC food is good, this was wonderful and a much appreciated change of pace.
I was invited by the same friends to join them for lunch at their office yesterday. Sara is well known for being a fantastic cook. She was born and grew up in Iraq before moving to the US. She started cooking Saturday night and finished about 1pm Sunday. The spread she laid out for the seven of us there was of Thanksgiving proportions. She made leg of lamb plus lamb meet for kebabs. There were two different rice dishes, potato curry with meatballs, tomato and pepper salad, hummus, and, of course, bread. We finished with traditional Iraqi chai (hot tea). This was by far the best meal I've had here. She did all this with only a two-burner hotplate and microwave. Amazing.
So I'm certainly not hurting for good food over here. It's a good thing I'm working out regularly.