It sounds like a bad pun. But despite ongoing violence, the restaurant scene in Baghdad, the capital of war-torn Iraq, is “booming,” according to the Associated Press. By that, we mean it’s doing really, really well. The number of cafés and restaurants is up 40 percent since 2013 in the city, and about 200 new ones are currently in the planning stages, the AP reports.
Even with regular bombings and suicide attacks, undeterred Iraqis still dine out. The food business, it seems, is a rare bright spot amid a bleak overall economic outlook in the beleaguered Middle Eastern country. “Whenever there are bombings, we expect a slow business day, but hours later we see a big turnout and that’s what encourages us,” one restaurateur told AP.
While it’s still a far cry from becoming a global gastronomic destination like, say, Copenhagen, Baghdad does hold a place in culinary history. The AP notes that the city’s food scene flourished back in the eighth to thirteenth centuries, with many archived cookbooks of that era still in existence.