Kuwait has its diwaniyyas, Yemen its qat chews. But for languorous trade in rumor, gossip and flashes of political insight, there is no substitute for chain-smoking and eating Iraqi masgouf.
At one of several Iraqi establishments in Sharjah, a down-market cousin of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, the host centered the bulging fish upon a table for six. “Iraq’s economy is like the fish,” he said, laughing. “How much you get depends on how quickly you eat.” It is an apt description of today’s Iraq -- the country’s patrimony is literally being divvied up and devoured.