An Oasis in the desert

Another Baghdad restaurant review! This one is called “Oasis” and truly lives up to its name. The place is run by Iraqis and is packed with authentic Middle Eastern flair. For example? Several large TVs installed in every room, each blasting “Melody Hits” or “Melody Tunes,” the Arab world’s answer to MTV (if MTV still played music videos…does it?). Let me tell you, nothing goes better with any meal like some Lebanese temptress gyrating her hips and crooning about her lost love.

The food? Oasis is know for its pizza. Real pizza (as in, not warmed up from a frozen block of processed dough) made with Iraqi cheese. It’s not like typical mozzarella, it’s chewy and stretchy and salty and melty…and amazing. Think of some sort of miraculous halloumi-mozzarella hybrid.

And all the typical Mid-East delights were included too: hummus, olives (drenched in fluorescent green oil, sour and tangy with vinegar), grilled kebab with various charred veggies, and baskets overflowing with hot, fresh samoun, football-shaped bread that is more familiar to Iraqi cuisine, the perfect vessel for enjoying hummus, olives, … you get the point.

The t-walls really add to the atmosphere, don’t you think?

I realize that this plate of fluffy, nutty hummus is already half-eaten. Believe me, it was tough enough to snap this picture before the whole thing was scooped up and devoured.

Wait…what are these? Real vegetables?! That didn’t come from a convoy from Kuwait?!

It’s definitely not your typical New York-style pizza. American-influenced, perhaps, but mostly Iraqi. Let’s call it “pizza diplomacy.”

The whole spread. I swear there was a big group of us! But yes, we consumed the entire table and topped it off with mango smoothies.

A lovely break from the reality of the compound. Farrell and I have about a week left in this ol’ sandbox before we head back to the real world, and Oasis will be remembered as a bright spot in a rather dull deployment.