Iraq's love affair with rice, a cultural staple beyond statistics

According to the latest Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics, Iraq boasts an annual per capita rice consumption of approximately 37 kilograms, placing it among the top countries globally in rice consumption.
Three different plates of rice. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
Three different plates of rice. (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan24 ) - In a nation where rice consumption ranks among the highest in the world, Iraqis' deep-rooted love for this staple grain transcends mere statistics, embodying a cultural tradition ingrained in every aspect of daily life.

According to the latest Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) statistics, Iraq boasts an annual per capita rice consumption of approximately 37 kilograms, placing it among the top countries globally in rice consumption.

Yet, behind these figures lies a narrative of passion and devotion to a culinary tradition that defines Iraqi cuisine.

To witness the fervent affection for rice among Iraqis, one needs only to observe the daily routines of individuals like two young men whose voracious appetite for rice remains unabated despite battling diabetes.

Their unwavering commitment to this beloved grain epitomizes the widespread embrace of rice across the nation, where it reigns supreme as the cornerstone of Iraqi meals.

Reflecting on this culinary devotion, one citizen expressed, "I am dying and I cannot do without rice. My lunch is two plates of rice, and my dinner is also rice. I have diabetes, and yet I still consume two plates of rice daily."

Another echoed this sentiment, emphasizing, "I cannot give up rice. I suffer from diabetes. I eat rice in the morning, evening, and even at night, and at any time. We eat it with our hands, not with spoons."

The magnitude of rice consumption extends beyond households to restaurants, where chefs cater to the insatiable demand for this beloved grain.

Haid Rashid, a chef in Baghdad, revealed, "The least restaurant consumes between 30 and 60 kilograms of rice, while others exceed 100 kilograms daily. Due to the overwhelming demand, we now offer six types of rice to accommodate our customers' preferences."

Chef Abu Hassan, echoing Rashid's sentiments, emphasized the centrality of rice in Iraqi cuisine, stating, "Western food may serve as an occasional indulgence, but the heart of our meals lies in rice paired with Iraqi broth, dolma, or any dish featuring rice."

While FAO statistics shed light on Iraq's average rice consumption, the reality surpasses mere numbers.

Rice embodies a cultural heritage, symbolizing unity, tradition, and the shared joys of communal dining.

Whether served in homes or restaurants, rice transcends its status as a mere food staple, becoming a testament to Iraqis' enduring love affair with their culinary heritage.