The other night I had the privilege of meeting up with some people to grab ‘Suhur.’ Suhur is when we eat a butt(ocks)ton of food before dawn in order to survive the long day of fasting ahead . When I’d fast back in the USofA, suhur was lame. No one was fasting with me so I’d just stay up a little bit past 2, guzzle 12-200 glasses of water, pound some vitamins, eat a piece of bread, and go back to sleep…only to spend the rest of the night going to the bathroom every 5 seconds for fear of peeing my pants…
ANYWAY. I’ve purposely tried to take advantage of my first Egyptian Ramadan by going out for suhur. The other night my friend invited me to this cool place in an area called ‘Syeda Zeinab.’ It’s in an old part of town, home to a mosque built in honor of Prophet Mohamed’s granddaughter………(wait for it)……Zeinab (surprise!). Alica Keys was wrong when she called NYC the ‘concrete jungle where dreams are made of’ because Syeda Zeinab is pure madness…although I’m not sure there is consensus on whether or not dreams are produced there, but I’d definitely say that it’s a concrete/asphalt jungle where something is something’d for the purposes of somethinging. Picture mass numbers of interwoven, narrow streets teeming with people who are casually walking in front of cars, motorcycles (which are typically being ridden by 3-7 people, perhaps a family of 3-7 people), and these weird car things that look like overgrown toys or a ride at Kings Dominion.
Now picture a few tables in the middle of all of that. I sat at one of these tables outside a restaurant called ‘El Gahsh’ or..’Little Donkey.’ Within seconds of taking my seat, a stack of pita bread is haphazardly thrown in the middle of the table and it is soon joined by several metal bowls of Egyptian awesomeness. In the background, stray cats casually stroll around the table, beggers approach selling packages of tissues, and employees attract potential customers by yelling “EL GAHSH” a millimeter or so from the face of anyone with legs who happens to pass by. There are no plates, there are no napkins. Just the bowls and the bread. It was incredible (the cool kind).
Although suhur here is way more fun, it isn’t exactly effective. Everyday I wake up with a mouth that is practically sewn together with dryness, a yearning for pepto bismol, and about 7 hours of fasting ahead of me but my plans to grab shawerma at 230 tonight tell me that it’s all worth it.