Iraqi cuisine has developed over the course of a long and rich history. Oldest known recipes in the world come from Iraq, and were inscribed on Babylonian tablets going back to 1700 BCE. Boiling the meat into stew with spices and other ingredients was the basic culinary technique. Garlic, coriander and mint appear in these recipes, as does cumin, a spice that has retained its ancient name to the present day.
Iraqis have a deep appreciation for their own cuisine. They view each part of the animal as healthy and nutritious, and make sure to cook all the organs, including the heart, kidneys and liver, brain, feet, eyes, and ears. Comparing the Babylonian recipes to what we know of medieval cuisine and present-day culinary practices suggests that the stews represent an early stage of a long tradition that is still dominant in Iraqi cuisine. Boiling the meat into stew with spices and other ingredients was the basic culinary technique. Iraqi Pache is prepared almost in similar ways as are described in the tablets.
The head, called pache, of the sheep is considered to be a delicacy, very healthy and delicious in Iraq, and commonly eaten by men so they become strong. Pache (pronounced as pah-chay), averitable witch’s brew of sheep offal, is celebrated as rare delicacy, having its origin in early Mesopotamian civilisation. Another charm that adds on to the wacky tinge of this adventure food is that is made with a Sheep’s (or goat’s or lamb’s) head, the stomach and its hooves (cleaned and processed under sanitary measures) boiled slowly, mashed up and served with khubz (flatbread) sunken in hot, watery and oily broth.
I am quite adventurous in tasting foods so I went for Pache. Prepared well, pache rewards the intrepid diner with a delicate meaty flavour that is never overshadowed by the rich patina of fat. This special delicacy could almost terrify anyone else from any other part of the world! If you can skip the notion of eating the head, it’s a must try for all the adventurist folks out there. The textures of the different parts combine, while the lemon and garlic (not to mention the obsessive cleaning) chase away any gaminess one might expect in such a dish.