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Need a pick-me-up?

Meet the Mother of All Coffees, a cheekily named beverage that has popped up at select Green Beans Coffee outlets around Iraq, most notably in Saddam Hussein’s former presidential palace in Baghdad, now the site of the U.S. Embassy.

The name refers to a famous statement made by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein on the eve of the first Gulf War, which he predicted — wrongly — would be “the mother of all battles.”

But the drink itself is no joke: For a whopping $4, you get four shots of espresso in a special 24-ounce cup, topped off with black coffee.

An employee at the Baghdad embassy said the brew is quite popular among the palace’s inhabitants, who include a slew of high-ranking military officers, diplomats and state department officials.

“There are people drinking it every day,” he said.

But not all soldiers are sold on the concoction. Spc. Spencer Case, 20, who is stationed at Logistical Support Area Anaconda near Balad, said he’s not interested.

“I would get the mother of all jitters if I drank that,” he quipped.

Spice it up a bitWhen you live at a remote radio relay point and all of your food comes in a box, how do you keep things interesting?

For the soldiers who live at Radio Relay Point 12 in southern Iraq, a little bit of ingenuity and a lot of spices make their meals worthwhile. Soldiers at the tiny base cook their own food, mostly on the grill.

“We get spices sent from home,” said Sgt. Chris Siebenaler, 22, a Minnesota Army National Guardsman from Plainview, Minn. “We’ve got marinades and glazes, even Lowry’s salt. That’s how we keep it new and exciting.”

They make do with what they’ve gotThe soldiers at tiny Forward Operating Base Paliwoda north of Baghdad say they don’t mind their Army-run chow hall. The cheery chow hall offers a small but well-appreciated selection of meals daily, cooked by servicemembers.

Soldiers say they don’t mind missing out on the six flavors of Baskin-Robbins ice cream that mark most dining facilities in Iraq. Small as it is, Paliwoda’s chow hall manages to regularly dish out steak, shrimp and crab legs.

“I think our cooks are doing an outstanding job for what they have,” said Capt. Jesse Abreu, 33, of Miami. “They’re also understaffed, so each cook gets one day off a week. That’s a lot of backbreaking work they’re doing.”


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