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Eating Qamr al-Din

Ramadan is once again almost upon us. It will start around 29 June, give or take a day. This year and next year will be the hottest, longest days of Ramadan; after that, it will start shifting into cooler days and earlier sunsets.

Many businesses have already posted their Ramadan hours of operation, which means crazy things like banks staying open until midnight and 9-to-5-type jobs turning into 9-to-2 with no lunch break. Major roadways and overpasses are already decorated with lights (even if nobody is flipping the switches quite yet). And of course, the grocery stores have their fancy Ramadan pavilions set up.

Here is our local Carrefour's Ramadan ad insert.

"Ramadan Kareem" means "Happy Ramadan." As you can see, dates are a big part of Ramadan break-the-fast meals. Dates are usually the first thing you eat when you break your fast, along with some water. Only then can the true feasting begin.

Today at the store, the girls noticed a pile of Qamr al-Din apricot leather and asked if we could try some. Qamr al-Din ("moon of the faith" - I think?) is another Ramadan specialty. It's sheets of dried apricot with sugar and olive oil mixed in. Kind of like a fruit leather, but with more oomph (I think it's the olive oil - it gives it more heft and a slight savory edge). In Damascus, we saw this stuff everywhere. We bought some once and ate it as-is, like the clueless Americans we were (are). (Though I swear we ate some like that with our landlady, too.)

But the real purpose of Qamr al-Din is to make a syrupy apricot drink. You soak the sheets of apricot in hot water and then blend it up. But I don't think today's purchase of Qamr al-Din will make it that far. I broke it open for the girls tonight and they snacked on it happily. I know we're not consuming it the way it's meant to be consumed - it's like we're at Thanksgiving dinner and serving ourselves heaping portions of cranberry sauce to eat plain - but it's delicious, so oh well.

We'll only catch a day or two of Ramadan before we leave the country for our summer adventures, but I'm glad we've got the girls interested in this traditional food, even if we are eating it wrong!

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June 20th, outsourced