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I served as a U.S. Marine in Iraq during 2004. One day, I traveled with an Army unit to a border checkpoint between Iraq and Syria. We were "officially" turning over control of the border crossing to the Iraqi Border Police. To celebrate their newly regained authority, the Iraqi officers invited us to a meal. We were all crammed into a small room filled with the smoke of a thousand cigarettes. By this time the Iraqis were aware of some of the American customs and sensibilities. They brought out large trays of what appeared to be Rice-A-Roni, with a roasted sheep or goat hind quarter laying on top of it. They also brought out large trays of what appeared to be pita bread. Before they ate, they gave us each saucers and forks and allowed us to serve ourselves. When we had our food, they dug in. Their tradition is to grab a handful of rice and a handful of meat from the ...

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