the first day of Ramadan! This is the first time I have every tried to fast during Ramadan, so surviving Day 1 is super exciting to me! Millions of Muslims around the world fast every day for an entire month, denying themselves food and water from sunrise to sunset. This year for Ramadan, I decided I wanted to experience this with them. Now, don’t jump to any conclusions, I am not converting to Islam. I am lucky enough to be married to a Muslim man who believes that I can and should believe anything I wish, and while I am enjoying exploring the religion, I do not feel any need to convert. However, I do want to experience life from other people’s point of view. My reasons for wanting to try this are:
1. to prove to myself that I can do it
2. to better appreciate the goodies and treats that are used to celebrate making it through a day of fasting
3. to experience for myself the appreciation of having food on a regular basis that comes as part of fasting for Ramadan
4. to share the experience with my 8 year old who is “trying” Ramadan for the first time and with my husband who has been doing Ramadan for the last 26 years
I don’t know if this will be the only Ramadan I participate in, or if I will even make it through the whole month, but I will check in periodically to let you know how it is going. Here are my reflections from the first day, and some pictures of our Iftar feast.
I woke up at 3 a.m. the night before the fast to eat Suhoor, a meal of sustenance to help you through your fast. I had oatmeal, with apples and carrots mixed in (loading up on the fiber!) and a smoothie made of avocado, milk and banana, as well as a bunch of water. Then, back to sleep, and up with the baby around 7 a.m. The overall fasting wasn’t bad, but there were silly things, like remembering not to like my fingers after feeding the baby something from my hands. The smells and aromas of all foods were definitely amplified when I fed Zaiyd and Sam and when I began preparing for “Iftar” – the meal when you break your fast. (I know people who fast and work in food service, and I can’t imagine how difficult this must be!) We knew we would break our fast at 7:39 p.m., and by 4:00 p.m., we were in the kitchen beginning preparations. My husband made the Haraia, the lentil soup that is full of protein and vitamins. The boys helped me to make Zucchini bread (not traditionally Moroccan, but much loved in my household, and another way to get vegetables in). I boiled eggs, and made a cheese ball recipe from my cookbook. I am trying out one new recipe a day for Ramadan. I made flan and warmed up M’smen (a Moroccan flat bread that we buy in bulk and freeze) and a Baguette. At the last minute, we made coffee, and put out dates, chebekeah (the most delicious cookies that basically consist of deep fried dough coated in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds), a bowl of fruit and some juice for the boys. Our Iftar is not always traditionally Moroccan, but is like our family – a mixture of American and Moroccan that fits best for our family.
We were so anxious to eat that the table was set about 10 minutes before it was time to eat. I used this time to take pictures for this post, and we watched a little tv. Then, we heard the call for prayer and we began to eat. I expected the first bite to be a big deal, but then I forgot that I have small kids who need to be helped out first, lol! My first bite was actually a part of a banana I was serving to Sam. I enjoyed all of the treats, but found that the chebekeah that I devoured in mounds last year (when I wasn’t fasting) was actually too sweat to eat more than one. I also decided the coffee was too sweat right then, and opted for some leftover smoothie from Suhoor instead. The haraia was amazing and the eggs tasted perfect. My body craved the proteins and that is what I ate. The whole process really makes me think about what my body NEEDS rather than what it wants. When we were done eating, we sat around chit chatting and I had a great feeling of appreciation for the life that I have and the ability to have this experience. We then went out and walked and enjoyed the night air. After we returned home (and had to put Zaiyd through the window b/c we had forgotten a key, lol!) We put the kiddos to bed and I enjoyed some rice and beans before heading to bed.
It is now officially Day 2 and just writing this for you is making my stomach grumble, but I know that I can make it through. That is part of what Ramadan is doing for me, building confidence in myself. Now, here are some pictures of our Iftar table from yesterday:
The Whole Table of Goodies
Chebekeah – the cookie of the gods!
Haraiah – Ramadan soup with lentils
Cheese Balls – Ramadan Recipe of Day 1
Zucchini Bread – a Family Favorite
Ramadan Kareem to those celebrating!