The people of Saudi Arabia are very traditional and eat the same foods they have eaten for centuries. The basic ingredients are the same: fava beans, wheat, rice, yogurt, dates, and chicken are staple foods for all Saudis.
Saudis are strict Muslims and, following Islamic law, do not eat pork or drink alcohol. Lamb is traditionally served to honored guests and atholiday feasts. According to Islamic law, animals must be butchered in a particular way and blessed before they can be eaten, so Saudi Arabia is the world's largest importer of live sheep.
Camel (or sheep or goat) milk has long been the staple of the Bedouin diet, and dairy products are still favorites with all Saudis. Yogurt is eaten alone, used in sauces, and made into a drink called a lassi.Flat breads— fatir, a flat bread cooked on a curved metal pan over a fire, and kimaje, similar to pita—are the other mainstay of the nomadic diet that are eaten by all Saudis. These breads are used at every meal, in place of a fork or spoon, to scoop up other foods.
Saudi customs for mealtimes and table etiquette come from both their nomadic tribal heritage as well as their Islamic tradition.Based on nomadic habits of herding animals throughout daylight hours, daytime meals are small, with a large meal in the evening.
Saudi meals are eaten sitting cross-legged on the floor or on pillows around a rug or low table (as though in a tent), sharing food out of the same dishes. Food is usually eaten with the fingers or a piece of bread. Following Islamic law, only the right hand is used foreating, as the left hand is considered "unclean" because it is used for personal hygiene. Ritual hand washing is completed before and after eating.
Dates and sweet tea are favorite snacks for Saudis, and buttermilk, cola, and a yogurt drink known as lassi are popular beverages. Coffee has been a central part of Saudi life for centuries, with an intricate ceremony to prepare and serve it.Preparing the coffee involves four different pots in which the coffee grounds, water, and spices are combined and brewed before being served in small cups. It is considered very rude to refuse a cup of coffee offered by the host, and it is most polite to accept odd numbers of cups.
Iraqi food is so strongly influenced by its neighboring countries, Turkey and Iran; it is one of the few nations ofthe Middle East to lack a unique cuisine. Like the Turks, Iraqis like to stuff vegetables and eat a lot of lamb, rice, and yogurt. Like Iranians, they enjoy cooking fruits with beef and poultry.
Hospitality is considered a highly admired asset to the Iraqis. Iraqis are known for being very generous and polite, especially when it comes to mealtime. Meals are more often a festive, casual experiencethan a formal one. Many Iraqis were raised to feed their guests before themselves, and to feed them well. Most Iraqis hosts feel that they are failing in their role as hosts if their guests have not tried all of their dishes. In fact, proper appreciation is shown by overeating.
A typical Iraqi meal starts with a mezze (appetizer), such as kebabs, which are cubes of marinated meat cooked onskewers. Soup is usually served next, which is drunk from the bowl, not eaten with a spoon. For gadaa and ashaa, Arabic for lunch and dinner, the meals are much alike. A simple main course, such as lamb with rice is served, followed by a salad and khubaz, a flat wheat bread served buttered with fruit jelly on top. Other popular dishes include quzi (stuffed roasted lamb), kibbe (minced meat, nuts,raisins, and spices), and kibbe batata (potato-beef casserole).
Saudi Arabia & Iraq
Islam is one of the world's great monotheistic religions. The followers of Islam, called Muslims, believe in one God (Allah in Arabic) and that Muhammad is His Prophet. A Muslim has five obligations, called the Five Pillars of Islam. First is the profession of faith: "There is no god but God;...