you are here: HomeNewsPhotosWorld

'A blessing from God': Iraqi truffle hunters unearth desert harvest

Braving the harsh weather of Iraq’s southern desert, as well as left-behind land mines, truffle hunters spend weeks hunting for the seasonal truffles that have provided them with an income for generations.

March 26, 2021 / 05:57 PM IST
Fetching its hunters up to $7 a kilo this year, Iraq's desert truffle is cheaper than its rarer European cousins that can cost hundreds of dollars or more a kilo. But with Iraq's economy in crisis, the local variety are a big help to truffle hunters like 72-year-old Zahra Buheir and her family. (Image: Reuters)
Fetching its hunters up to $7 a kilo this year, Iraq's desert truffle is cheaper than its rarer European cousins that can cost hundreds of dollars or more a kilo. But with Iraq's economy in crisis, the local variety is a big help to truffle hunters like 72-year-old Zahra Buheir and her family. (Image: Reuters)
Braving the harsh weather of Iraq’s southern desert, as well as left-behind land mines, Buheir and her family of seven have spent weeks hunting for the seasonal truffles that have provided them with an income for generations. (Image: Reuters)
Braving the harsh weather of Iraq’s southern desert, as well as left-behind land mines, Buheir and her family of seven have spent weeks hunting for the seasonal truffles that have provided them with an income for generations. (Image: Reuters)
This year the rain came late and Buheir could only find about a kilo of truffles a day, one tenth of what she would dig up in a good year. (Image: Reuters)
This year the rain came late and Buheir could only find about a kilo of truffles a day, one-tenth of what she would dig up in a good year. (Image: Reuters)
Turning over stones and poking the earth with her bare hands, Buheir’s granddaughter, 5-year-old Riyam, accompanied her parents to learn a trade and the desert lifestyle. “When there is no work, truffles are a source of income. And we are happy here,” said Riyam’s father Mohsen Farhan, who cherishes the weeks he spends with his family in their tent in the desert. (Image: Reuters)
Turning over stones and poking the earth with her bare hands, Buheir’s granddaughter, 5-year-old Riyam, accompanied her parents to learn a trade and the desert lifestyle. “When there is no work, truffles are a source of income. And we are happy here,” said Riyam’s father Mohsen Farhan, who cherishes the weeks he spends with his family in their tent in the desert. (Image: Reuters)
Learning to hunt for truffles these days also involves understanding the desert’s dangers. “We are afraid of wolves, there are a lot here. And there are mines. A while ago, someone died,” Farhan said. (Image: Reuters)
Learning to hunt for truffles these days also involves understanding the desert’s dangers. “We are afraid of wolves, there are a lot here. And there are mines. A while ago, someone died,” Farhan said. (Image: Reuters)
Remnants from the Gulf war in 1991, unexploded devices beneath the earth could be mistaken for truffles by the inexperienced eye. (Image: Reuters)
Remnants from the Gulf war in 1991, unexploded devices beneath the earth could be mistaken for truffles by the inexperienced eye. (Image: Reuters)
Every few days, Hussein Abu Ali, drives into the desert from the city of Samawa to take the truffles to market. (Image: Reuters)
Every few days, Hussein Abu Ali drives into the desert from the city of Samawa to take the truffles to market. (Image: Reuters)
There, Ali Tajj al-Din sells them at auction, each with a different name according to size. “These are walnuts, eggs, oranges, and here is the pomegranate, the biggest one,” he said. (Image: Reuters)
There, Ali Tajj al-Din sells them at auction, each with a different name according to size. “These are walnuts, eggs, oranges, and here is the pomegranate, the biggest one,” he said. (Image: Reuters)
This year, scarcity has pushed up prices and truffles that don’t sell locally are exported to wealthier Gulf countries. But customers at Samawa’s “Beit al-Hatab” restaurant relish its weekly truffle speciality. “We fry or grill them, but the favourite dish is truffles on rice,” said restaurant owner Fawwaz Hatab. (Image: Reuters)
This year, scarcity has pushed up prices and truffles that don’t sell locally are exported to wealthier Gulf countries. But customers at Samawa’s “Beit al-Hatab” restaurant relish its weekly truffle speciality. “We fry or grill them, but the favourite dish is truffles on rice,” said restaurant owner Fawwaz Hatab. (Image: Reuters)
Reuters
first published: Mar 26, 2021 05:57 pm

stay updated

Get Daily News on your Browser
Sections