Sonntag, 7. Juli 2013

Ramadan Preparations

 Freezer cooking the Algerian way, five packs of baklava should get us through this months...

Part of the Ramadan shopping, fresh coriander is essential for the shorba, the soup we have for iftar

This week we will enter the Holy Month of Ramadan. As a muslim family, it is obligatory that we do fast from dawn till sunset, no food, no drink for 30 days.  I remember Ramadan back in Algeria, some members of the family woke up for suhoor, the meal before sunset, they had some dates and lots of water. Others would just sleep until noon. The men would go to the market, then my mother-in-law would prepare iftar, the evening meal with that you are breaking of the daily fast. This would be followed by a long nap in the afternoon, and then, finally at about 8 pm, iftar time. Such a bliss to have the first sip of water!
This year here in Germany, the fasting begins at about 3.00 AM and lasts until 9.30 PM. Many people experience a kind of mental high during this time, a feeling of strengthened faith and a reconnection with God. They read the Quran a lot, and spent much time in the mosque, praying. But what if you have to go to work? Not a very good idea, indeed...You get up at 2.30 am, have a quick breakfast, go back to bed and try to get some more sleep. Then off to work. No coffee... No chocolate......
Have you ever tried to concentrate when the only thing on your mind is food? (Or, as the days go by, sleep?)
You get home, take a quick nap and then wait for iftar. You stay up late, as there is not much time for your body and stomach to make up for 17 hours of fasting. And it goes on like this for the next 29 days.
I know, this might sound strange or weird to non-muslims, especially now in the summer months, as you are not allowed to drink during the heat of the day.
But as much as I dread the month of Ramadan, it is always a precious time, a good experience. It always makes me think about food a lot, how we handle it, how much we waste, what it is like to be hungry. Have you ever noticed just how much food you eat during the day without really noticing? Without being hungry?
I am always surprised how often I enter the kitchen and snack on some olives, nuts or some chocolate.
During Ramadan, we usually break the fasting with a glass of water and some dates. I promise you, there has never been a drink sweeter or more refreshing than this humble glass of water at iftar. I can literally feel it running through my body.I am looking forward to this feeling already.
So, the shopping is done, there is meat in the freezer and the pantry is filled. I have been browsing through Algerian cookbooks to get some ideas of what to cook and the menu for the first day (at least) is ready. I always want to be more organised, like freezing bourek or appetizers, but I never make it this far ;-)
Seventeen hours of fasting can become very long, I wonder if I will make it this year without falling asleep on my desk at work. We will start on Tuesday or Wednesday, anybody wants to see our iftar table then??

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