. . . Wednesday August 10, 2005

Ordering Takeout in Baghdad

Several years ago, when my wife was spending a summer in Venice, she lived above a small, Chinese restaurant. She would often go there when she felt homesick. There is something about a Chinese restaurant that always feels familiar. There are few populated places on the planet, it seems, where you can’t find a decent order of spring rolls and fried rice. It’s comforting.

And so it somehow makes sense that Baghdad has its first Chinese restaurant. Unfortunately, it also makes perfect sense why, for now, you can only get takeout:

Things were looking up for Chen Xianzhong, proprietor of Baghdad’s first authentic Chinese restaurant in the new Iraq, until a suicide car bomber blew up outside the place less than two weeks ago. The deafening blast shattered the windows and spewed body parts into the dining room. A foot landed on the pavement outside and a tire landed in the restaurant’s second floor.

“There were small pieces of flesh all over, even on the roof,” Mr. Chen said. Now, he does takeout only for the few loyal customers that continue to call.

Concentration is important!