Aid Al-Kebir

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January 25th 2005
Published: January 25th 2005
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This weekend was the big holiday: Aid Al-Kebir, La Grande Fete, The Big Celebration. All last week the streets were full of bleeting sheep, and all last weekend they smelled of roasting sheep-meat.
Aid Al-Kebir is Islam's biggest holiday. I think I mistakenly reported in a previous entry that the party after Ramadaan was the biggest, but I was wrong. For the holiday, to honor Abraham's sacrifice of his son Isaac to show his faith in god, every family buys a live sheep and kills it and eats the meat all weekend. Issac was spared the knife by god who replaced him with a sheep at the last moment, but the sheep, like the several million sheep sacrificed in Morocco on Friday, knew no such mercy.
I celebrated with Abd Al-Ali (AKA Abdul) and his family and I have to say it was quite the event. It started, of course, at the livestock market on Thursday. The place was packed shoulder to shoulder with eager shoppers and less-than-eager-sheep who where poked and proded and lifted into hay trucks for the ride back to the city. We picked a juicy ram with nice thick legs and a good hearty b-a-a-a-a and rode home with him crammed into a hay truck with several dozen Moroccans and their sheep.
Tied to the wall in Abdul's kitchen, Moosayood, as we named him, knew what was coming, but I think he accepted his fate with diginity. He did, after all, have a name and that was more than most sheep die with.
Friday morning, after Abdul and I had our ritual baths at the local hammaam, the butcher made his rounds through the medina and came to Abdul's home, and after a brief Koranic recitation, wrestled Moosayood to the floor in the kitchen, and with two quick strokes had "couper la gorge" of our four-legged friend.
After that, it was four days of "Howlee L'theeth" (delicious sheep). Friday night it was heart and liver. Saturday morning, sheep brains, jowels and tongue. Saturday: sheep meat brochettes and kidneys. Sunday was ram-meat tajine with potatoes, olives and garbonzo beans. Monday we ate stewed leg or ram, and I believe tonight there's a still a bit left depsite the fact that Moosayood fed a family of eight for three meals a day for 4 days straight.
I think tomorrow we're going to take the skin to the tannery to be dyed and made into slippers and a hat and and wallet, and maybe I'll have the wool turned into a jalaba or some wooly socks and mittens.
All in all it was a highly succesful and rewarding holiday. In exchange for one plump sheep, I got a 4 day window into hectic traditional Moroccan family life and made some new friends. We ate twelve incredable sheep-meat meals (ok some of them were just sheep-organ meals), and I have one more travel tale to shock and amaze all who will listen when I come back from my voyage.


25th January 2005

good to hear good and good
Yo... I haven't added my comments lately, but I wanted to drop you a line real quick. You whole trip has sounded amazing and I can't wait to hear your shocking tale. All of us out in the ATL are doin our thing. I have been traveling like a mad man. I don't think I have been home for more than 4 days staight in a long while. Not that I have to tell you about being home...that seems to be your home at the moment anyway. We are definately having fun in the process. My house is one day away from being completed...renovation that will be nice. Jed and I are still pimpin on some music...have to get down with the cruck in this area if you want to sell it. We actually have been getting into ethnic drums as of will have to check it out. Bring some music back if you can. I would like to do a sample project with it! Hope you don't turn into a sheep soon and I will be in touch. - justin

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