• Mike Sula
  • Andrew Zimmern and Basma Jajou stuffing stomachs at George’s Grill Kabab

Last week I wrote about the small West Rogers Park kubba plant, Kubba Mosul, Inc., where five varieties of the bulgur-wheat-and-meat Middle Eastern staple—aka kibbeh—are produced and shipped to 15 different states.

I only came to this by way of an aborted attempt to spelunk the twisted lineage of Assyrian-Iraqi restaurants in the city and nearby suburbs. By my rough count, this subset of Middle Eastern restaurants numbers about ten in all. That may not seem like a lot, particularly because there isn’t a tremendous amount of difference in the menus of these places to distinguish them from Arab-run Middle Eastern restaurants—apart from a few key dishes. But I had a hunch that the swell of recent arrivals fleeing the troubles back home has prompted at least a small surge in the number of places that can produce a decent masgouf—or at least an approximation of the grilled Tigris river fish, so dear to Bagdhadis—or a serious bowl of pacha, a stew of sheep’s head, trotter, and stomach usually savored in the the wintertime.