PORTLAND It s an exotic flavor you don't find very often in the United States: A food cart offering up recipes from Iraq. And the family members behind the counter are just as unique as the dishes they serve.
In a cozy trailer in Southeast Portland, Ghaith Sahib stands next to his mother, cooking up some of their favorite dishes from their home country.
All the recipes are Iraqi recipes, he says
So how did a man from Baghdad end up owning a successful food cart in Portland, Oregon? It wasn't necessarily for a love of food, but for the love of his life.
His wife, Tiffany Sahib, is a Portland native. She says they met while staying at the same hostel in the Netherlands.
I was in Amsterdam working for an organization that helps women come out of prostitution, she says. And my husband was there as a refugee looking for a new life.
Ghaith had been injured by a car bomb in Iraq in 2006.
I left Iraq, he says. I went to a couple of countries looking for a new life.
After a long courtship the two married and started their new life together in Portland, by opening Aladdin's Castle Cafe.
The first time I tasted his food it was amazing, Tiffany remembers.
In Iraq, men are not supposed to cook at home; that's the woman's job. But here in the U.S. Ghaith's talents in the kitchen have paid off.
I just want to show people that Iraqis are good people, he says. And we have good food.
One of Ghaith s recipes is featured in the June issue of Saveur magazine, along with a story on Portland s food cart culture. Aladdin s Castle Cafe will celebrate its first anniversary next month.
A few months before it opened last year, Ghaith was able to bring his mother and father to Portland from Baghdad.
Saveur article Food of the People: Portland's Food Cart Revolution