Out of the Box is the single most original meal kit delivery service based in Los Angeles that delivers across Southern California from San Diego to Santa Barbara. It is the brain child founder Jennifer Piette who focuses on locally-sourced and sustainable, farm-to-table ingredients. This month Out of the Box teamed up with Add a Little Lemon to create a curated box full of Iraqi-inspired recipes. Each box contains the ingredients and recipes selected from five of my recipes, with Vegetarian ordering options. Be sure to order this box and support independent creators!
About the Box
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!