Friday, September 05, 2008

Fast or food, what comes first?

Fasting during Ramadan is about developing compassion for the poor and needy who feel hungry every day. As a spiritually and physically cleansing experience, it is also about separating oneself from the things of this world, concentrating on God, coming closer to Him, building self-discipline, and becoming a better person.

In theory, at least. Or maybe so it was thousand years ago in the desert…

In present day Indonesia, Ramadan seems very often to be associated with… food.

What food for buka puasa (breaking the fast), where to break the fast, the price of food, the variety of food, the abundance of food, the richness of food.

Markets and supermarkets are full of korma (dates), timun suri (a type of cucumber), and blewah (a type of melon), popular fruits for the traditional breaking of the fast with a sweet snack.

Newspapers advertise buffets, a way of breaking the fast together with colleges, friends or family. Ramadan time in Jakarta is chef exchange time for the big hotels. Chefs are flown in from Cairo, Amman, Beirut and Lahore to present their creations; Jakartans are invited to try Arabic, Turkish, Lebanese or Pakistani specialties in 1001 Arabian nights charm.

Since most of these events are celebrated in Jakarta’s four or five star hotels (the ones where you get intoxicants), we need to emphasize that a good Turkish or Lebanese dish deserves a raki or wine respectively. Cheers!!

Photo from Jakarta, September 2008.

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