Ramadan Kitsch

7 Aug

Ramadan is the time of year when Muslims all over the world abstain from food, drink, and other physical needs (yes SEX -for you hopefuls-) during the daylight hours.

As the moon dictates (I find that insanely poetic), Ramadan has started on July 20th this year.

Ever since I can remember, I have always been fascinated by this ritual: the starry skies, the prayer according to the sun and moon, the Generosity, the abstinence, sharing and staying up late at an outdoor café, The gathering, the abundance of food, the convivial spirit and the mass effort put into not eating all day even under harsh conditions (construction workers in the scorching heat), all contribute to my fixation

Unfortunately, I have NEVER been invited to a traditional Iftar (the dinner that precedes the fast) in my life, until a couple of days ago when an impromptu iftar comes up and I almost invite myself, eager to experience it for the first time.

I run home from work, get ready, and head to the house located on the suburbs of Beirut. I am directly invited into the kitchen to put my chocolate cake and start tossing the salad as I am sweetly ordered to, by Aunty Intissar (aka Victoria), the host. I already feel at home. I’m then swiftly called to be seated in the dining room; The carpets are burgundy and the chairs covered in floral patterned velvet, C’est kitschissime! My plate is already filled with a portion of rice with fried nuts and vine leaves stuffed with rice and meat which I realize I can’t touch before the Eden starts.

We start off with the rice, and a side soup; the air is filled with scents of sweet spices, buttery rice, Crisco, nuts, smoky chicken stock and some more spices. My lungs are filled with anticipation to sample everything so I can shut down my inner fitness freak. I dig into a creamy carbonara: the distinct flavors of smoked turkey, fresh cream, parmesan and nutmeg are easily delectable – A mouthful of Beef with ginger and vegetables later, and I am already full. I follow with some more rice, as I am served a cold “jallab”( a drink made from carob, dates, grape molasses and rose water with pine nuts on top.) and I don’t skip the salad for my dose of comforting greens, just what I need to refresh my palate after all the mains.

Ok, I’m so full again just talking about the subject, and I hope you are too and that you will skip a meal and thank me later.

BECAUSE:

YEA!

On a final note, seeing the Egyptian Fawazir (TV series specific for the holy month) my parents used to watch, I grew up absolutely mesmerized by Sherihan who was my very Glamorous introduction to islam; All that glitz would put Liza Minelli to shame! But really, I think she represents Ramadan so well: the visual richness, the variation, the fusion, the explosion of colors, and surtout le Kitsch, is all emulated with the food.WATCH this baby down here:

Gimmemoah Ramadan Exotism

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