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Thursday afternoon the house became quite all of a sudden, except for the occasional whirl of the food processor I didn’t here noise from the kids. As most parents know this is never a good sign. Ever. For a second I assumed they had gone outside to play but every now and then I’d hear a phrase spoken. When I finally got up to look downstairs (we live in a traditional style Moroccan home with 4 floors and an open courtyard in the middle) I saw this;
Grandma had gotten the boys to help with Ramadan preparations by shelling kilos of almonds. It’s some task as they need to be boiled then cooled, the skins removed and then cleaned again. Finally they’re fried, cooled, and ground almost to flour. Some Moroccan families outsource all the prep work now, they buy cookies, or have someone come to the house to make them. They might rely on the dry packages of harira for the nightly soup. They maybe purchase briouats from someone else they trust. Not in our house. My mother in law set out this day to make sellou the flour/nut/spicey sweet mixture served for every iftar. I don’t even know how much she made but it was a lot!
I’ve never been in Morocco during Ramadan, hard to imagine considering we’ve been coming for the last ten years. In some ways I am grateful for that and in other ways I always wondered what I was missing. I struggle with Ramadan, the very concept of it. I attribute a lot of this to not being raised as a Muslim. I didn’t even know what Ramadan was before becoming Muslim! Every year in the US I tried to feel the excitement my husband felt. I tried to make it special for him and for the kids – because it is supposed to be special. It’s one of those things I hear people talk about with this sense of amazement and magic – like when you give birth. But I feel deflated, just like I did after giving birth! Maybe it just takes me longer to come around than most people. I don’t feel any closer to Allah, I feel hungry and crabby, pressed for time, and in the summer months I feel like we’re missing out on the fun. I don’t want my kids to feel this way. I want them to feel the same excitement as their dad.
So I’m hoping this year I’ll feel different. I’m hopeful that being in a country where everyone around me is aware of and celebrating will bring some of the excitement. Even though I’ve not yet gone to a mosque here, I hope we can go to Kotoubia and pray tahraweh. I want to stand amongst thousands of people and feel the energy. I hope that when the cannons sound at the end of the fast, there’s happiness and not just a mad dash to shove down some briouats and suck down some water. I hope the streets come alive at night. I hope that this sparks a little something inside me to see Ramadan through the eyes of my husband and feel more than contempt in my heart.
The part of Ramadan that does get me excited is getting ready. I love planning and preparing! I haven’t done much cooking to prepare because I just don’t have the space I once did. We’re also leaving for the US in the beginning of July so the kids and I will only be here for about 1 week of Ramadan. If you’re preparing too I’ve gathered some links and ideas to help you out.
If you’re visiting Morocco during Ramadan, I wrote this article for Journey Beyond Travel to give some idea of what to expect.
Watch the six-part video series I created last year to prepare for Ramadan. From the home, to children, your kitchen, the workplace, general background on Ramadan, and getting spiritually prepared you’ll learn from six amazing sisters about all of these areas! Ramadan Revealed.
Ramadan Morning Gift Baskets – Love this idea from Amnah!
Another great idea a 30 Days of Ramadan Balloon Countdown
Visit Yvonne of My Halal Kitchen for amazing Ramadan recipes.
Be sure you’re follow @SaffronRoadFood and @WholeFoods on Twitter. There will be a Ramadan centered tweet chat on July 17th beginning at 6pm Eastern. I’ll share more details with you as I get them! You’ll also want to check all your retailers that sell Saffron Road products because they’ll be on sale in all Whole Foods and in some other retailers like Target and Kroger.
How are you preparing for Ramadan?