In Iraq for 365

About my experiences in Iraq... the frustrations, the missions and this country... and the journey home

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Food or a bomb: That is the question

Wrapped in a red foil sack, the food caught everybody by surprise. It happens all the time… locals bring us food to thank us. But as this tub of something sat on an office table in the palace, nobody could say who brought the chow. Still warm, the food appeared to be some type of meat and it was unusually heavy. At a time when everybody is extra alert, people asked people who asked people who asked more people. We must have asked 40 locals and soldiers, all of whom absolutely had no clue on where the food came from.

Considering a week ago, we suffered a dramatic, tragic attack on a dining facility, the speculation of a potential “food” bomb in our office began to surface. I’ll admit, I was one of the first to come up with “that doesn’t really look like food; probably just trying to cover something up. And it weighs a lot.” A couple other people, much more senior ranking than I, inspected the potential threat. “Yup, that can’t be food. It’s too heavy, and it doesn’t smell right.” Another fellow walked up to the wrapped tub and slid his hand under the opening, feeling the texture of whatever it was. “It’s too rough to be a meat and it’s not sticky enough to be a sweet. And it’s really heavy. Somebody call EOD.”

EOD is short for bomb disposal. So the unknown package was sent to a safe area, which meant away from the palace and crowds of people. These guys were the experts, and even at first glance, they detected something fishy. “Yeah, that really don’t look like food.” They picked, prodded and poked the package. They had some type of meter. One sergeant held his glasses to his mouth, like a professor, as he gave the package one more look around. “Meter’s not detecting anything. Can’t be a bomb. But that thing, whatever it is, still ain’t right.”

So, the original group of experts huddled one more time. “Are you sure you don’t know whose that is?” Nope. I got it… it’s poisoned. “But, we haven’t even determined it’s a food yet.” Which is why it makes perfect sense! They know Americans love to eat strange things. Have you ever been to the South? They’re still frying sheep testicles. “Good point. So, what do we do with it? See if somebody will eat it?” Yeah great idea, that way if it is poisoned we can watch their eyeballs pop out. The answer is simple, we throw it away.

The thing must have weighed 20 pounds and it had a rough texture. Hard black clumps were embedded in a stiff brown plaster-type substance, which even though EOD cleared it, made people still say “I really think this is a bomb.” It’s not a bomb. Let’s just throw it away and be done with it. Nobody’s claimed it the last hour or asked, hey have you seen that 20-pound glob of mine.

We threw it in the trash can, where I believed it belonged. Even if it were food, who in there right mind would eat that?

Two hours later walks in a very important officer. “Hey, have you guys seen a large cake? Somebody was supposed to deliver it a couple hours ago.” Uh, sir, we threw it away. “You what?”

We told him the story about this so-called cake being mistaken as a bomb and then poison, emphasizing that everybody’s extremely alert. “You guys are idiots!” He then told us that the strange-looking cake was made by the best baker in Iraq. It cost $200 and was a gift to a very high-ranking person from a very important Iraqi. The cake was supposed to be eaten, not thrown away, the officer said many times.

“It was a cake, not a bomb. How in the world could you mistake a cake for a bomb?” Sir, did you see the cake? “No.” It was heavy and it had these black things in it and smelled like vinegar. “Well, maybe the baker used vinegar to bake it.” Well, sir, why didn’t you tell somebody about the cake? “Because I didn’t think a bunch of idiots were going to throw it away.”

At the end of our cake-bomb discussion, the officer agreed to let somebody know the next time he has a $200 cake delivered and we promised to not throw it away. That is, unless it was poisoned or a bomb. You can’t be too alert these days!


At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I laughed all the way through this just kill me.

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Papa Ray said...


Be glad you didn't have any Texans around, they will eat anything.

Hang on and don't let it hang out too much.

Papa Ray
West Texas

At 8:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Classic! At least, I think so. I've never had to stand in your shoes before.

At 10:57 PM, Blogger DangerGirl said...

Some fool pays $200 for a cake that is really heavy,with black clumps embedded in a plaster-type substance and stinks; and this Officer thinks YOU guys are idiots???


At 6:50 AM, Blogger Kim said...

Oh, this is GOOD! Thanks for sharing such a cute story. oh, and Happy New Year, stay safe Sminky

At 10:09 AM, Blogger JUST A MOM said...

I agree with Huntress! I would have tossed it too!
Hang in there!

At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Keep in touch :)


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