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August 22, 2009 Ramadan Day 1 – Berberville

I woke up this morning when I heard the water come on. I started the usual oh-hey-the-water’s-running chores – washing yesterday’s dishes, boiling water for tea, scrubbing another load of laundry – but stopped halfway through, when I realized that Ramadan may have started, and thus there’d be no need for tea.

May have started. Or may not have. It all depended on whether or not the local imams had seen a sliver of a crescent of the newborn moon last night. My friends and I had checked the skies ourselves, before turning in, but either the moon hadn’t yet risen or else it was still an invisible new moon. Not knowing which, I didn’t know whether or not we were supposed to fast today.

When in doubt – hit teh intarwebs. Blogspot may be iffy these days, but Google still works, so a quick check of Ramadan 2009 Morocco led to … a lot of speculation published earlier in the month. Eventually, I found an announcement from Abu Dhabi that Ramadan had begun. I found a blogger from Fes confirming it…and so it’s on!

No food.

Or water.

All day.

Until l-fdor, the breaking of the fast. Yes, like in English, fdor usually refers to breakfast, the morning meal of the day. But technically, it’s just the first meal of the day, ie the meal that breaks the fast of the previous hours…usually overnight hours, but for this month, the daytime fasting hours. Fdor is eaten after the moghreb, the sunset call to prayer. (All 5 prayers have their own names.) Just to make things even more confusing, this meal is sometimes known as the moghreb.

According to a handy website, this meal – our first meal since a midnight snack before turning in last night – will come at 7:07 tonight.

After a long, stomach-rumbling day, we baked chocolate chip cookies – a true test of our commitment to maintaining the fast – and brought the still-warm cookies over to my host family’s house. Ama had invited us to fdor yesterday, when we joined them for lunch.

She’d actually said, “If Ramadan starts tomorrow, come for fdor. If not, no problem.”

When we arrived, the main room was empty. Ama was sitting over a table covered in three kinds of bread and a tea pot, in the kitchen, and my little siblings were running around the compound. I wondered where fdor would be served – in the main room or one of the fancy entertaining rooms on the other side of the compound? – but we were ushered into the main room, so I assumed it’d be in there.

After helping Ama put the finishing touches on the preparations, and assuring her that the moghreb would be called in just a few minutes, I carried the bread-laden table into the room where my friends still sat. I brought out the tea set, too, and then the tea and coffee pots. Soon, Ama and Baba and the baby joined my friends and me at the table. We heard the first peals of the Allahu akbar – God is the greatest! – coming from Berberville’s only mosque, on the far side of town. One of us (who shall remain nameless) went ahead and broke fast with a date. The rest of us followed Ama’s example of waiting until the call to prayer had completed, then reaching for dates of our own. Mmm, dates.

After the date, I ate some bread with honey, then some olives, another date, a chocolate chip cookie (which Ama broke out and served), then some more bread, then a third kind of bread, then another date…

Once the day’s hunger had been sated, Ama served the harira, aka taharirt (love how Tamazight adapts Arabic words!), the traditional Ramadan soup. It’s a thick, creamy soup, with the texture of tomato soup but including rich additions like lentils and inch-long spaghetti noodles and chickpeas. Ama makes it with meat, but always scoops around the chunks of meat for me, her favorite vegetarian. :)


  1. Good luck with the days of fasting ahead...

  2. My sis is always looking. You can't get away w/ anything. ;P


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