The drudgery of jury duty at the Daley Center yesterday was considerably brightened by the weekly farmers’ market and Chicago Arabesque, the city sponsored festival of Arab culture, which runs on the plaza until tomorrow. The food, represented by Tagine, Cedars, and Bellagio Cafe (huh?) was as overpriced and uninteresting as at any city street festival, and if my arid chicken kabab and cold falafel from Haifa Cafe was representative, it was lousy too.

The two most interesting food-related items were both being sold by political groups. I found a great cookbook under the tent staffed by the not-for profit Washington Report on Middle Eastern Affairs. The spiral-bound, photo-heavy Iraqi Family Cookbook: From Mosul to America, by Kay Karim of Falls Church, Virginia, focuses on Northern Iraqi cuisine, which is heavily influenced by Turkish and  Kurdish food. I can’t wait to get into some of the recipes in this book which run the gamut from snout-to-tail lamb dishes like stewed sheep’s head and feet (aka, pacha–a Kedzie Avenue standby) to meatless Lenten dishes like mujadara maslawiya (lentil) soup. 

Meanwhile, over at the American Friends Service Committee tent, they were hawking $20 bottles of Zatoun fair trade extra virgin olive oil from the Jenin area of Palestine, and positioning its purchase as a political act. Among other causes a portion of the proceeds go toward providing Palestinian farmers with new olive saplings to replace those destroyed by the Israeli Army. How’s the oil? Fruity and leaves a nice little burn at the back of the throat.

I snagged the second to last cookbook, but at 1 PM yesterday there was plenty of oil.