What are some interesting facts about Saddam Hussein?

– qoura

March 10, 2023

This was taken from the Polish book How to Feed a Dictator: Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Enver Hoxha, Fidel Castro, and Pol Pot Through the Eyes of Their Cooks written by Witold Szabłowski.

This was an incident recalled by Saddam Hussein’s personal chef, Abu Ali.

As the story goes, Saddam Hussein took his staff (including Abu Ali) and his personal friends on a cruise on his personal boat along the length of the River Tigris.

On this particular day, Abu Ali was told by Saddam’s bodyguard Salim that he had the day off as Saddam wanted to cook some koftas as a token of appreciation to his guests.

This was something new for Abu Ali.

For those wondering, this is what a kofta roughly looks like.

I’m sorry if you are salivating now.

Abu Ali would prepare the meat, stick them on some skewers and leave it in the fridge for Saddam to cook. Abu Ali also recalls that no one ever liked Saddam’s food, but ate it because they had no choice.

But Abu Ali was confident that there was no chance of screwing koftas.

After some while, Salim would come to Abu Ali with a plate of koftas on some pita bread. Abu Ali was delighted by this kind gesture from the President.

He would have a small piece along with some pita bread. This was when the terror began.

He felt an extremely painful burning sensation in his mouth. He was sweating, in tears, and crying for water. He gulped an entire glass but it was of no use. It didn’t subside the burning sensation.

He saw his life flashing right before his eyes. He was convinced that either Saddam poisoned him, or this poison was meant for Saddam. But why? Why Abu Ali of all people?

He cried for help. But he wasn’t alone. Every guest on the boat was also crying for water out of pain. Except for Saddam.

But… what was this burning sensation?

Apparently, one of Saddam’s former guests gifted him a bottle of hot sauce.

Saddam thought this was a great time to test this condiment out. It’s not for sure if he did this on purpose or if he had no clue how to use it, but he ended up almost killing his guests.

Salim would come back to check whether Abu Ali liked the food, on the President’s order.

Abu Ali downright slammed the koftas and said:

If I’d spoiled the meat like that, Saddam would have kicked me in the butt and told me to pay for it.

This was a little custom with Saddam. If he didn’t like the food, the chef had to pay 50 dinars for it.

Salim would go and say the exact same thing to Saddam, who was with his guests. Saddam orders Abu Ali to meet him at once.

Abu Ali goes to Saddam, fearing his life as he just bad-mouthed the President’s food.

Saddam asked Abu Ali if he liked the food, in front of his guests. Abu Ali couldn’t answer because he neither wanted to say the President’s food was bad nor can he lie to him because he knew what Abu Ali told.

Saddam would burst out laughing and apologize. He would hand out 50 dinars to Abu Ali for wasting the meat and Saddam offered him some more koftas, but without the sauce.

Saddam would cook koftas for Abu Ali all by himself, and it was surprisingly good.

As Abu Ali predicted, there’s no way to screw koftas, unless there’s hot sauce involved.

Thanks for reading!

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