Book Review: Eating Mud Crabs in Kandahar


Eating Mud Crabs in Kandahar

Edited by Matt McAllester

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS

If breaking bread is key to our humanity, it is doubly so in a conflict zone. In this riveting collection, correspondents share war stories through the lens of food and drink. The fare ranges from pagan sheep sacrifice in war-torn Ossetia (the ear tastes “burned, hairy, cartilaginous”) to the overindulgences of North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il ($120-a-bite rice cakes). Under fire in Afghanistan, US soldiers fetishize MREs, while, amid Rwanda’s horrors, the tea tastes like death due to corpses clogging the waterways. One author trains to withstand excessive drinking, a prerequisite for broaching the Irish Republican Army’s inner circle. Another one concludes his profile of Benazir Bhutto with a recipe for burfi, a sugary sweet that Pakistan’s former leader gobbles compulsively during their visit—only days before her assassination. In the end, the food rituals become a vehicle for tales of greed and pettiness, but also friendship and human dignity.


If you buy a book using the Bookshop link on this page, a small share of the proceeds supports our journalism.

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate