This year, when Ramadan began, Seth and I mailed one of the new Ramadan and Eid al Fitr cards we sell at our online Book of Days Catalog to Tara and Sami, who run The Pelican on Lake Avenue in Downtown Lake Worth. I don’t know if we have the best business model, exactly––a big motivation for me in including Ramadan and Eid cards in our catalog was simply so I could send one to Tara and Sami as a thank you for all their kindnesses to us over the years––but I’m really glad we offer these cards. I feel like we are doing a good thing by including them, for a spirit of inclusion is what we strive to build through this blog and through our little company. Inclusion and understanding (in my experience, anyway) make for a far better, stronger community.
With Eid al Fitr, which begins with the first sighting of the new crescent moon this month, Ramadan concludes and the month of fasting in the Islamic calendar ends. Depending on where you are in the world, Eid will begin tonight or tomorrow night. Customs for Eid al Fitr vary widely from country to country, but charity and prayer, respect to others, and food, especially sweets, are at the forefront. The greeting for the season is Eid Mubarak: a blessed Eid.
My ancestral home in Southern Italy is a place in close proximity to the Islamic world, and so there is a strong Arabic influence on the culture. That influence is probably most notable in the regional dialects of Puglia and in its cuisine, all of which have been brought to the States, too, through the immigrants that came to this country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Last week, when I went to mow the lawn at the family homestead, my mother sent me home with roasted red peppers she had just made, as well as an old family recipe I love: zucchini and onions, cut into long strips, sautéed, and finished with vinegar and fresh mint. I don’t know about the roasted peppers, but the zucchini dish, which we eat chilled a day or two after it is made, so that the flavors develop and meld, is distinctly Arabic. It’s a dish that was handed down to my mother from my grandmother and certainly through a long line of grandmothers through time immemorial.
It may be the result of growing up in a place as culturally diverse as South Florida, where people from all over the world gather to forge a community, but I love seeing these connexions. They are, to me, the strongest bridges, especially when we take those influences and call them our own (perhaps without even realizing the commonality of our roots). We get our nourishment not just from food but from each other, through a thread that reaches back through the centuries. Talk about blessings! Eid Mubarak.
Image: Momma’s roasted peppers, dressed with fresh olive oil and flat leaf parsley, and zucchini with vinegar and mint. So good! We’ll include the recipes in the “real book” version of the Convivio Book of Days. Guess what? I’m almost done writing the proposal and the first chapter!