Last night I had the pleasure of participating in a traditional Iftar, the fast-breaking meal during Ramadan. Ramadan is the Islamic month of fasting, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours in order to learn about patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God. And just as the sun sets, families gather to feast! That’s just what we did.
Jeri prepared an incredible meal, complete with the traditional dates. We began with mango nectar and lentil soup with egg and lemon. We were told to dip our bread in the soup. She also made samosas and had fresh salsa. Then we enjoyed a rice, cauliflower, and lamb “upside down” dish. Although Jeri was disappointed it didn’t stick together as her mother-in-law’s does, it was delicious! Afterward, we tasted an bright orange dessert with cheese inside and drank many cups of tea.
I go into great detail about the food because it was so neat to eat traditional dishes and participate in such an important ritual (although Jeri’s husband assured me that there is very little ritualistic about the way they usually pig out!). We sat out in their English looking garden for hours, sipping on tea and talking about religions and cultures. Jeri’s husband inquired about my work and we got to talking about hunger.
Having not fasted that day and rarely during my life, I have a hard time imagining what hunger really feels like. I’ve met children and families throughout Colorado who do not have regular access to food and heard their stories and frustrations, and with 1 in 4 families being food insecure I am fortunate to have not experienced hunger myself. During our meal and conversations, I couldn’t help but think about families where hunger lasts longer than sunrise to sunset, where fasting is part of their life with no elaborate feast at the end. My hope is that those families suffering from hunger are supported and allowed to access help that will allow them to break their fast.