Even through the darkest days of the invasion and civil war, Iraq’s candy and pastry makers have endured it all. Some see the profession as just another trade to provide for their family, but many also see it as a creative outlet. Their traditional Zoond Al-Sit and Baqlawa
draw Iraqis from miles around just for a taste.
Iraqi pastry chefs not only put a lot of care into their creations, but some spend years developing specific specialties. The more unique their dish, the more their fame, and fortune, will grow. Sadr City in Baghdad is known especially for its unique creations, with Iraqis journeying from all corners of the country to sample its Zolabya, Sha’rya, Kanafa and Balorya.
These dishes don’t always come easy though. With Iraq’s unpredictable security situation, often times the price of ingredients will rise sharply and suddenly. This not only causes the price of sweets and pastries to fluctuate wildly, but will sometimes even cause whole items to be removed from the menu. Obviously this can be a devastating blow to a sweet maker who specializes in that item.
Fortunately for these sweets makers, security has been much less of an issue lately. With the threat of violence relatively diminished, more Iraqis are able to freely walk the streets at night and thus the bakeries are able to stay open longer, often late into the night.
In this week’s episode of Alive in Baghdad, we take you inside some of these pastry shops to talk to the chefs themselves about what it takes to be a candy maker on the streets of Iraq today. We only regret that it is only video and you can’t taste the dishes yourselves.
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