Coffee percolates through Iraq's cultural history
Abdullah Saadi fingers the fine brown leather belt with holsters for thimble-sized coffee cups and a dagger. He is a keeper of customs, Baghdad's professional server of coffee.
He sits in a brick house behind an iron gate in the cramped warrens of Sadr City. The room is painted bright lemon in contrast to the gray street outside. His mother walks through the room, half-embarrassed, singing for guests, "I am the mother of the coffee maker." She thumps her chest and laughs at her son.
In Iraq, coffee isn't merely a matter of ordering a grande to go from Starbucks. Here, in a country where people blend modern and tribal identities freely, the beverage links people to their history, to their ancient hospitality. It serves as an entry to small talk when a man visits his tribal sheik's house, as a way to gather with friends and mourn in times of death, as an excuse to sit and argue and gossip.
"Coffee means generosity," Saadi says, explaining the delicate customs he presides over, keeping alive the old ways in the big city.
His late father, a porter, smashed coffee beans in a mortar and pestle and had his own special blend of spice that he offered to his guests....
comments powered by Disqus
- T. rex fossils arrive at Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
- Quote of the Day -- Time Magazine's Top 100 People
- Investigation: The Resegregation of America's Schools
- 5 Explosive Revelations Leaked from Senate Report Exposing CIA Torture
- In Parts of the South, Glorifying Slavery No Longer Pays the Bills
- UC Berkeley professor emeritus Robert Harlan dies at 84
- She Came All the Way from Melbourne to Attend the OAH
- The 7 Most Popular HNN Videos from the 2014 OAH
- Jesse Lemisch’s up-from-below history is still strikingly original
- U.Va. Historian Alan Taylor Wins 2014 Pulitzer for Book on Slaves and War -- His second Pulitzer!