Order Deadline: Noon, Tuesday, August 13th
ABOUT THIS BOX
By Sara Leana Ahmad – an LA-based Iraqi changing the narrative about Iraq, through food…with recipes from her blog Add a Little Lemon
Check her out on Instagram as well @addalittlelemon
IRAQ is: Mesopotamia, the Cradle of Civilization, the Fertile Crescent, the land of the Tigris and Euphrates, the birthplace of Abraham, the site of the Garden of Eden, the supposed burial ground of Noah’s Ark, home to Gilgamesh. It has deep and powerful roots. And those roots are reflected in the cuisine.
The very first cookbook ever written was from Mesopotamia, on stone tablets.
Iraq’s rich history and glorious ethnic and cultural diversity means its food is complex. Iraqi cuisine is influenced by Levantine, Iranian, Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian, Jewish, and Indian cuisine, among others, creating something wholly original and beautiful.
Alas Americans seem to know very little about Iraq other than war, destruction, and violence. It’s all we get to see. This limited view of such a beautiful country, which up until the sixties was known as “The Jewel of the Middle East,” continues an Orientalist tradition of pigeonholing the entire region as violent and destructive. We learn that the violence is somehow inherent and so we choose to ignore it, without considering the consequences.
Recently, more and more Iraqis are using social media to show us a different view of Iraq than the one portrayed in media. They are moving the camera lens an inch, to the parts we don’t usually see, the beauty and life that exists despite the violence, corrupt policies, and foreign meddling, the curses of such rich land and soil.
Snapchat recently featured a Day in the Life of Baghdad, in which Iraqi snaps of daily life were selected, surprising millions. We don’t think about carnivals, delicious food, beautiful landscapes, people laughing and enjoying life when we think about Iraq. And sadly unless we look for it we won’t see it.
The popular Instagram account @EveryDayIraq features a collection of photographs that depict daily life among its people, beyond the scope of violence. Only recent iPhone photographs are selected so that we get a more honest view of the country.
Yes, there is corruption and violence in Iraq – as there is here and anywhere. But there is so much more to Iraq. And given our active participation in the region, it is at the very least our responsibility to attempt to understand our shared humanities.
As it always is, food is a powerful cultural bridge. This box is more than just recipes and ingredients: it’s a positive social force! Enjoy!
Bil Afya | Bon Appetit
With love, Sara
- Quozi + Biryani – Garlic Roasted Leg of Lamb Atop Bejeweled Rice
- Makhlama – Skillet of Ground Beef, Tomatoes, and Parsley topped with egg and lemon juice
- Nena’s Tashreeb Istanbuli
- Chickpea Socca
- Vegan Lentil Soup with Vermicelli Noodles & Lots of Lemon!
Large Omnivore Narrative Provisions Box for all the recipes, plus additional staples and fruit
Large Vegetarian Narrative Provisions Box for the Chickpea Socca and Vegan Lentil Soup with Vermicelli Noodles and Lots of Lemon! and the ingredients for 2-3 more meals of your own invention, plus additional staples and fruit
Small Omnivore Narrative Provisions Box for the Nena’s Tshreeb Istanbuli and the Chickpea Socca!
Small Vegetarian Narrative Provisions Box for the Chickpea Socca and Vegan Lentil Soup with Vermicelli Noodles and Lots of Lemon!
About Sara Leana Ahmad: I’m an Iraqi American living in Los Angeles hoping to reframe the Orientalist narrative of Iraq through our common humanity: food. One kubba at a time…
Changing the narrative one box at a time…
Read below for a heartwarming response that Sara received after one of our Narrative Food community members received our Add a Little Lemon Narrative Provisions box…
A few months ago I designed an Iraqi-inspired meal-kit delivery box with Narrative Food that delivered within and beyond the greater Los Angeles area. The goal was to introduce people to Iraqi food in the hopes that they might think about Iraq in a new context and what that might mean. I wondered if people would actually take my message into consideration when making the meals or if they would simply eat the food and go on with their lives.
And then I received this incredible letter, which I’ll leave you with.
Apologies that this email took so long. I wanted you to know that our “Add a Little Lemon” Iraqi box was extra special. During each night of cooking and eating we talked about how the food was from a far away country named Iraq. We loved every bite of it, and especially fun was the drama of sizzling turmeric oil and serving on giant platters and the funny instructions like “don’t be lazy, tembal”Anyway, my 3 year old has recently taken a keen interest in maps and finding countries/states/etc. He showed me a doodle of a map he had drawn declaring, “This is Iraq!” So I just love love love that his first associations with Iraq – just as Sara was hoping – will not be violent or terrible, but delicious and wonderful instead.