Tis the season of Eid again in Morocco. The sheep souk has once again appeared in the lower part of my city – for Moroccan men to brave to find the perfect sheep to slaughter.
Eid Adha is a remembrance of the prophet Ibrahim who was going to sacrifice his son Ismail at Allah’s (God) command only to have Allah intervene and kill a ram the stead of his son. So in remembrance every year – each married man will slaughter a sheep specifically a ram after Eid prayers on the day of Eid Adha.
My fiancé had to work as fire fighters in Morocco are not just for fires. He also handles EMT duties, life guarding at the beach and being called to major forest fires – which trust me sucks but that means more sheep kabob for me.
My future father in law – still purchased a sheep just for us. Which I was surprised about but happily so. Two sheep arrived at 9 pm at night the day before Eid along with over a 100lbs of wheat with Omar’s maternal grandmother from her farm near Tahla, Morocco.
I picked the red sheep as Omar’s and I’s after petting it and scratching its forelock. It was a fearless sheep unlike the white one which seemed to understand his fate.
In Morocco I figure the sheep know whats up when their brothers start disappearing one by one every year around a specific time. It reminded me of the movie – Chicken Run except in the Moroccan version – it would be called Sheep Run.
The day before Eid was Omar’s brother Amine’s birthday – so I baked him a cake and bought him some soda pop. I teased him that turning 21 in America is a big deal and asked him if he was going to the club later with friends. Since there is no club in my site – and he was studying in preparation for his exam – he slept over at his friend’s house who was also studying for the same exam after eating cake and having soda with his family.
The next day I awoke to the sound of Takbirs ringing out across Taza. It’s quite something to hear the city and valley ring full of men’s voices as they Takbir.
All of the women stayed home and go ready for the ritual slaughtering of the sheep.
I know many people don’t think about where their food comes from but I having now seen more than my fair share of sheep, chickens, turkeys and pigeons slaughtered can tell you that it gives you a reality check about your diet and food.
If you personally kill your food – your more likely to use every part of that animal and I think eat healthier.
I packed knives as one of my many items in my luggage that I brought here to Morocco and I have to say I have never been more grateful to have done so given that I was certain all sheep killed with my knife had a swift and merciful death. A 10 dollar knife off Amazon is worth its weight in gold as is the knife sharpener I purchased and brought. I got a lot of chuckles thinking of all the macho male neighbors using my hot pink knife – that slaughtered more than 5 sheep in a matter of hours.
Every part of the sheep is used – nothing is seen as waste. If it’s not edible for people, its given to the family cats or dogs. Who act like vultures during the slaughtering process.
The first day of grilling is all about the sheep organs grilled with the sheep fat.
I learned my lesson last year – when I ate a lot out of being polite – and not really liking sheep liver or heart and got sick. So this year I felt comfortable saying – no thank you to the organ kabobs.
My father in law being who he is – is always concerned with my health and diet. Yes sometimes I feel like a prize cow but I know it’s because he really likes me that shows such concern. He asked why aren’t you eating the organ kabobs? I said because I got sick last year and I don’t like the organs.
He promptly asked my mother in law to get some of the meat from the sheep and grill it for me so I wouldn’t be hungry. Which is ironic given less than an hour earlier I had eaten breakfast. You have to love the Moroccan worry about being hungry – it’s always a concern that no one goes hungry.
After everyone is stuffed full and sipping soda water or soda pop or perhaps tea to sooth their stomaches a quiet descends on the house as well as the city. It’s as if the switch from active to lazy occurs right after the last organ kabob is consumed.
As families butcher their sheep during the week – they set aside meat to be given to the poor. This can either be given on an individual basis – one family to another or it can be given to a local association or masjid that will distribute for the family who donated.
This lethargy continues for an entire week of the vacation and spills over in to the next week as everyone slowly emerges from their sheep induced comas.
So I hope you all enjoyed Eid – and if you havent had the pleasure of an Eid – perhaps some time soon you will.