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The Savory Side of Iraq

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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HELL'S KITCHEN Firas

With daily reports of car bombings, beheadings, and now chlorine gas attacks, it is easy to forget the ways in which U.S. occupiers are winning the hearts and minds of Iraqis every day. TV in the war-torn country, for example, is already starting to suck as bad as it does here in the U.S.

And while no one likes being penned up at home while daily violence surges on the streets, at least they can numb themselves with Good Morning Iraq, a popular daily television show on state-run Al-Iraqiya network. (The same network that airs the Cops-like but slightly less catchy named Terrorist in the Hands of Justice). GMI brings a daily Sawyer-ey, Lauer-y cheer to the crater dimpled days of Baghdad denizens.

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The most popular feature of the channel: resident chef Firas's daily cooking segment. It caters to an important demographic in the new Iraq: housewives, according to Firas, the Middle East's Emeril. "We get lots of e-mails asking us to extend the kitchen slot or urging us to dedicate an entire program to cookery," he tells the BBC. While Firas "misses the safety" of the old Iraq, one of the benefits of the American occupation is a wider palette. "Nowadays, there are more ingredients available to us," he says. "I make a different dish each day, five days a week. Today it's a Turkish dish: shashlik guzaban a chicken and vegetable kebab. But it could easily be an Iraqi dish. I'm particularly good at preparing French and Chinese food."

Was that someone's stomach rumbling or just the sound of a not-too-distant roadside bomb?

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