Food thoughts during Ramadan
Written by: Khadeja
Ramadan: the holy blessed month. A month of discipline, spiritual development, and abstention from food. But, for Muslim women all over the world, Ramadan is–ironically–also about food.
Women everywhere try their best to prepare well before the holy month starts–recipes start exchanging hands, food shopping is done in bulk, and anything that can be prepared beforehand and frozen will be be. Most households start off strong with a buffet of savory and sweet goods, but as we work our way deeper into the holy month, a panic arises. The question du jour–every jour–is “What will I make for iftar tomorrow?”
Creativity and energy supplies have dwindled, leading to panicked phone calls to friends, during which the very first item on the agenda is to discuss menu ideas. I’m surprised that Pinterest hasn’t crashed yet due to the number of visitors seeking guidance.
Why is it that women have a food obsession during a month that isn’t supposed to be about any material obsession at all? Perhaps its because so many of us are our families nurturers that feel a responsibility to ensure everyone in our household is well-fed (overly- fed?). Perhaps we feel validated by the satisfied bellies of our loved ones? But then, if we’re so concerned about food, how is Ramadan different than any other month? We don’t experience the same palpitations when planning our dinners on normal days; why should Ramadan be any different? In fact, should we not try to conserve our energy and use it towards our prayers?
We worry about food out of love and generosity. There is no greater feeling than when your efforts are acknowledged by your restaurant patrons–oops, I meant your family! I get a thrill whenever I see them reaching out for seconds. Not to mention the good deeds gained by feeding a fasting person! That alone recharges you for the next day in the kitchen.
But I do think we need to find a happy middle ground. Let’s be honest, most of the time we end up with loads of leftovers (which is as exciting as a sale at your favorite stores because you know that leftovers = kitchen break!). You can only eat so much when your stomach has shrunk to its normal, pre-21st century food-binge lifestyle before you start feeling like they are going to have to roll you to your prayer mat.
While I hope that one day we break free from the pressure that we put on ourselves, in the meantime I will be in the kitchen making sure that at least three different dishes are on the table, because for some odd reason I believe in the power of the trio and anything less causes me to start twitching.