Sunday, September 4, 2011

The End of Ramadan & Korité

Ramadan is different in different places, but in my part of Senegal Ramadan was from August 1st to August 30th. During Ramadan Muslims (if they aren't pregnant or sick or too young or too old or what have you) get up before dawn to have some breakfast, and then don't eat or drink (or gossip or ogle or whatnot) until around 7:30 in the evening. In my compound, the neighbors come over to pray, and everyone who's been fasting shares bowls of mboyree porridge. I have no idea how it's actually spelled. Ours is made from finely sifted corn flour, and it has little tapioca-like balls in it, and they flavor it with sugar, a little salt, and what I'm pretty sure is tamarind.

Mboyree on a stove. And my toes. 
My host family's great, and since I'm not Muslim, didn't expect me to fast. My host sisters said it would be good to try, just to see what it was like, have the experience, and so I fasted for one day, out of solidarity and partly just to prove that I was capable of doing it. However, not drinking any water all day is pretty terrible for you, and while one day was fine I wasn't about to do that for a whole month.

During Ramadan pretty much everyone on my compound got colds, and a couple people had dysentery last month. Ramadan's hard on your body, especially for people who still do hard labor, like farming, or who refuse to stop fasting when they're ill or pregnant, which unfortunately happens pretty frequently.

Diabou, my youngest host sister, 'helping' cook. 

On the evening before Korité, Kadé, the youngest of my three host moms, was the first in the neighborhood to spot the first sliver of the moon that officially signaled the end of Ramadan, and everyone got all excited and  called out to each other and banged on bowls and pans and, even though I hadn't been fasting, it was still fun.

And then it was Korité. Everyone got all dressed up in their best complets and went around to greet friends and family, giving them treats and bowls of fancy food.

Kids in their new Korite clothes.  
Tatiana/Taki, Little Jess/Aisha, and LaRocha/Adama
This is the complet my host family during Pre-Service Training gave to me. It's not the most flattering thing by American standards, but my village was all abuzz about how good it looked. Little Jess, my sitemate, and Tatiana, who lives in Etiolo, a nearby Bassari village, came by to greet me and my family and hang out for awhile.

My host father Sada Souare and me. 
 And, of course, the food. After weeks of eating very simple lunches at the kids' bowl I was pretty stoked about having a day of nice meals. I hang out and chat during dinner prep a lot, but on Korité I even helped cook a little, chopping onions, chasing chickens away, telling the little kids to get their hands out of the pot.

Mariama Gaulo and Mariama Kesso cutting meat

Korite dinner food prep
For Korité we had fonio and meat with onion sauce for lunch, and meat with beans and bread for dinner. The meat was goat, one of our goats, and it was good, but I'm still a little squeamish about eating little bits that are still very obviously sections of digestive tract. The sauces were pretty fantastic, though.   

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