Lamb Chop: Anthony Bourdain, eat your heart out!
Outside, in the yard by our headquarters, stands a lamb; A fluffy, friendly, delicious, looking lamb.
Since my arrival to Iraq, I have developed a taste for this mountainous meal of mutton. The Iraqis cook it just right, long and slow, seasoned to perfection. When it’s done, it rests on a pile of brown rice with cinnamon and white raisins. Layered under the rice is a pile of warm, soft flat bread. Pavlov, you devil you, my salivary glands are working overtime just thinking of this delectable meal.
So, the lamb stands, tied to a tree, nibbling the newly grown grass. She is unwittingly aware of her future demise; I stand there petting her soft, nappy fur. She doesn’t really “baa”. She makes a throaty, guttural, “aaaccchhh”. She has been separated from the herd and deep down I think she knows what fate awaits her.
Soon the lamb will be sacrificed; A tradition as long a time to give thanks for some kind of success in life. (In this case a promotion and/or a religious ceremony). They will likely spill the blood somewhere that is significant in hopes that it will bring a prosperous future for everyone involved. After that they will feast.
They will stand around a table as plate after plate is uncovered in front of them. The delicious aroma of a newly slaughtered and freshly cooked lamb wafts from the meal that hundreds of generations before have experienced. Everyone begins to pull the meat off the bones, balled with handfuls of rice, using torn pieces of bread to keep it all together. There are no forks, spoons or knives. The conversation is light and the meal is filling.
When the meal is complete, fruit is offered as dessert and everyone retires for a cup of chai tea.
Ironically, I talked to my 6 year old son this weekend. When I asked him what he was doing, he said, “I’m watching stupid show called Lamb Chop. I would rather watch Batman Returns.”
In my head I thought, “Don’t worry my son, if Lamb Chop was in Iraq, she would be delicious.”