Friday, August 02, 2013

Ramadan Diary - Moroccan Ramadan Tales of Sugar and Shisha

This far into Ramadan, everything has become kind of normal. Sleeping and waking hours have shifted and the fasting has become relatively easy. But how does it look from the outside looking in? The following piece from the Times of Oman paints a picture - at times accurate and in other places wildly wrong. Have a read and see if you find the phrases that had us all chuckling.

Ramadan in Morocco is considered as the exclusive time for inner reflection and understanding the plight of poor and needy. People are seen distributing food among the less privileged. This indeed sows the seeds of compassion as the whole community comes together.

The morning meal is called "Sobh" in Moroccan dialect of Arabic. People eat light meals like oatmeal, yoghurt, croissants, dates, bread and also drink plenty of water. Coffee, milk and mint tea are also consumed.

During Iftar the tables are laden with food. Dates reappear with different types of juice, milk, tea and coffee. People drink the typical Moroccan soup called "Hareera", with honey-made Moroccan pastry called "Shabakia". Hareera is a tomato-based soup, which is part of the Iftar menu every day during this month. A variety of breads such as Msemen and Rghayif (layered flat breads cooked in skillet like Indian parathas) are also part of the customary Ramadan diet. Olives, boiled eggs, cheese, marmalade and butter are also seen on Iftar tables. Moroccan tea biscuits, known as "Fekkas," are also consumed.

After Iftar, families are seen rushing to the mosques for Taraweeh prayers. Fatima Ben Maryem, a French national of Moroccan descent, says that during this holy month different families prepare meals and send them to mosques for people who congregate for Iftar. Different families in the neighbourhood also come together and have a collective Iftar. Once the prayers are over, people head to cafes and relax till the wee hours of morning.

King Hassan II mosque in Casablanca


Here in the real world of Fez, nobody was surprised when some research told us what we already knew - we are consuming far too much sugar! Morocco one of the world's largest consumers of sugar per
person. While every Moroccan consumes 37 kilograms of sugar each year, the global average sugar consumption is only 20 kg per person. According research company, Cosumar,  the national consumption of sugar increases during Ramadan, mainly because of the high use of sugar in the preparation of cakes and other delicacies.

During Ramadan, Moroccans consume about 95,000 tons of sugar.

Yet, despite those 37 kg per year, Morocco is not in the top 10 global consumer of sugar per person. Here are the top 10 largest consumers of sugar per person: Macedonia (73.8), Belize (65.5), Swaziland (56.9), Cuba (56.6), Trinidad and Tobago (55.3) , Barbados (52.7), Costa Rica (50.6), New Zealand (49.2), Saint Kitts and Nevis (49.0).

The largest consumers of sugar by country or region are India, the European Union, China, Brazil, the United States, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia, Pakistan and Egypt. Morcco does not even make the list - so come on Morocco, you can do better. Or maybe, we should just forget the top ten and try to go lower... it would be good for our health.

The 25,000 Missing persons case 

Where did all those Moroccans go to? That was an easy one to answer, even with brains tired from heat and fasting. 25,170 pilgrims headed to the holy places. The National Airport Authority, ONDA, mobilised for Umrah from July 2 to 24 with 75 flights operated from the airports of Casablanca, Rabat, Marrakech, Agadir, Fez, Tangier and Oujda. Casablanca was top of the list, with 12,372 passengers traveling 32 flights operated from the Mohamed V Airport.

Marrakech police bag hookahs

According to a security source, Marrakech police services have been on the trail of shisha fans with a war against the proliferation of hookahs in public areas. The security services conducted 126 search operations that bagged 1575 hookahs.

Shisha smoking is gaining popularity in Morocco, despite the fact that it is not originally a Moroccan custom. It has become a very popular for tourists as well and despite the Marrakech crackdown, shisha clubs are thriving across the country. It is suspected that the attempts to stop shisha consumption is a Ramadan thing and once Ramadan is over, shisha smokers will be left in peace.

See all the Ramadan Diary excerpts - RAMADAN DIARY

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Anonymous said...

More hookah smokers; as there are not enough drug addicts in Morocco...

Driss said...

Lol Anonymous - what a generous spirit you are. What about those who enjoy without being addicted?

TVFF said...

Lighten up! It's Ramadan - Share the love and let's not criticise others...

Anonymous said...

It seems to me some moroccans can not handle criticism very well. It's well known that drugs is a big problem in Morocco, particularly under the youngsters. It's forbidden by the islamic government to drink alcohol, but smoking drugs is oke... To me that's strange. More and more hookah smokers is not a good sign..