My Photography

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Eid al Kebir, 2013

On October 15th this year Morocco celebrated Eid al Adha, or informally Eid al Kebir (literally: the feast of the sacrifice or the big feast). It's the country's most important holiday, really the only one when everything shuts down. Male heads of households are supposed to slaughter at least one one-year-old ram on the morning of this holiday. This is generally done at their residence (think: balconies, yards, apartment rooftops, etc) and the families donate at least 1/3 of the meat to those who cannot afford to slaughter their own. During the weeks leading up to it, one begins to see sheep all over the place; in cars, taxis, on buses, in tents and balconies, even on motorcycles!

Sheep generally are up for sale in tents all around Casablanca (and I guess Morocco in general but can't really say that for sure since I haven't witnessed it). If it's not a tent it's a garage or something of the sort that gets turned into a holding pen, which double as "sheep hotels" for those which have already been bought, but whose owners don't want on their balconies just yet.

It’s a very family centered holiday, and we spent it with Othman’s mom, dad, sister Sarah and brother Omar, along with some of their closer extended family at his parents’ beach apartment. The apartment is in a large complex which meant there were many sheep being slaughtered that day. It seemed haphazardous, but really was quite orderly, and was organized by the security guards. In past years the smell of sheep and blood and feces wafting through their house has really bothered me, so I was happy the slaughtering/holding of the sheep was done away from the house this year.

In the pictures you can see the holding pen, and how the scale was really pretty large. One family apparently doesn’t really like mutton and opted to slaughter a cow, and another family, possibly one with less money, went for a goat instead. It’s my understanding that both of these were also one-year-old males, but I may be wrong. The prices of the sheep vary greatly depending on its size and all that, but 2000 Moroccan dirhams, about $240, was the general starting point this year. Any household that would go into debt or have financial difficulty to buy a sheep is not supposed to get one, but that is ignored a lot of the time, since there’s a hefty amount of social pressure to have your own sheep.

Since meat needs to hang and cure for at least a day or two, on the day the sheep is slaughtered generally only the inner organs are eaten. Sheep have three stomachs, which are cleaned and cooked into a big common stew sort of thing. Then there are shish-kebobs of liver and heart wrapped in long stringy pieces of fat. Usually the men of the house go and visit other members of the extended family after the sheep is slaughtered, and the women stay and prepare the many kinds of salads and the meat. I just deal with the salads!

In the afternoon we all eat the big meal with the traditional dishes and salads. One delicacy, and one of Othman’s favorites, is the sheep’s balls chopped up and cooked with lots of butter. I’m not a huge meat eater and don’t really like mutton, so I mainly eat salad. Needless to say, I don't partake in my hubby's favorite. The next day there’s usually another family get-together with shish-kebobs of the more tender meat and whichever of the dishes were leftover from the day before.

O and his uncle manning the barbecue

Our Eid group (I'm behind the camera)

Of course this is just my personal experience from the 3 Eid al Kebirs I have spent here. Traditions vary from family to family, region to region, so I can't speak for all of Morocco, but here's one expat's version!

Behind is a Russian salad brought by Othman's aunt
(in pink above), and in front is a traditional dish
made from the three sheep stomachs....

I stayed away from the blood and guts in this post, but if you like that kind of stuff I have some more pictures on my Flickr.

No comments:

Post a Comment