Iraqi Immigrants Struggle to Make a Living in Arizona

Sep14_g02_iraq.jpg__800x600_q85_cropSue Halpern and Bill McKibben at Smithsonian Magazine:

Perhaps you’ve bought pita bread at the supermarket? Dry, flat: a kind of envelope for holding food. Now imagine something more like a beautiful down pillow where food could rest and relax and dream big dreams.

And you’ve probably never tasted a samoon, a diamond-shaped Iraqi bread, because, if you had, you’d have moved to Phoenix so you could live within smelling distance of the Sahara Sweets Baghdad-style bakery, which is in a strip mall next to the Iraqi halal butcher and the Iraqi grocery store. A samoon, hot from the wood-fired oven, is like a popover that you can really sink your teeth into. It wants hummus the way pancakes want maple syrup.

Can you wrap your mind around a tray—a huge tray, the size of a pool table—that’s nothing but tiny squares of baklava, a giant grid of honeyed puff? There are eight or nine of these trays at Sahara Sweets, just waiting for the moment when Iraqis across the city get off their jobs and race to the bakery.

If you’ve got these images in your head (or in your mouth), then perhaps you can imagine a secure, prosperous Iraqi community under the Arizona sun. There, sadly, you’d be wrong.

more here.