The Knife Sharpener of Tangier
This being the eve of the Aïd, the culmination of the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca, knives are being sharpened all over the Muslim world, in preparation for the sacrifice of millions of sheep. BBC has a nice explanation of the feast. We wish our Muslim friends
عيـــد مبــــارك سعيــــــد
And now, we indulge in some of the sights and sounds of Tangier…
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Knives everywhere. Not just the usual pocket ones, which you can pick up off a blanket from a sidewalk salesman. But big ones, including meat cleavers. Drawn by the sound of the whirling stone, which sends its sparks flying, my wife takes advantage of the guy who's set up shop on our corner and now our kitchen knives are sharper than ever before.
Sheep, and the bleating of sheep, everywhere. Sheep on roofs. Sheep tethered on the medina streets. Hay for sheep. Sheep dung. Soon, the day of the Silencing of the Sheep. Those knives…
A friend, living in the suburbs, wants to have materials delivered for a home improvement project. Sorry, all the three-wheeled mini-vans have been commandeered for sheep transport.
Beware of hydatid disease, where humans can contract tapeworms from eating the offal of infected sheep.
With our NGO partner FTAM (la Fondation Tanger al-Medina), we distribute Aïd trash bags to the women of TALIM's medina literacy program, courtesy of Amendis, the water company. The message: throw the huge quantities of sheep waste from the do-it-yourself slaughterhouses into the bags, and not into the storm drains.
However, those nice yellow plastic bags are also great for storing things…
Neighbor Mark comes back from the massive outdoor sheep market, having just bought a goat for a deserving family.
Same outdoor market frequented by Mohammed, who finds that the laws of supply and demand, plus the onset of heavy rains, have brought the price of sheep back up. Rains mean fresh grass, so sheep farmers can afford to keep those sheep for another season rather their lower their prices.
People who bought their sheep two days ago, before the rains, got great deals. This is important, when the price of some sheep is the equivalent of a month's pay. For those who cannot afford the price of a sheep, the response can sometimes be tragic.
I once witnessed the sacrifice of a goat, and partook of the meat hours later. The meat was a mite too fresh for my palate.
Is there a vegetarian option? Consult VegetarianMuslim.org.
What can you do with leftovers? Suggestions from Bangladesh.
For Americans who complain about the cost of a turkey, be happy that you only have to eat turkey sandwiches for a few days, and that the bird does not set you back a month's salary. I haven't heard of anyone getting into debt to pay for Thanksgiving, but some Moroccan observers are asking, "Must you get a loan to buy a sheep?"
Food for thought. In the meantime, wishing everyone the best for the Aïd.
وكـل عـام وأنتـم بخيــر