You know how between Thanksgiving and the New Year you feel like you are eating an increased amount of sugar and fatty foods? This year I’m getting a little extra bonus called l’eid kbir (or more properly eid al-adha). This holiday revolves around the sacrificing and consumption of a sheep. In order to commemorate the sacrificed sheep God sent in place of Abraham’s son, every family buys a sheep of their own and kills and eats it…all of it.
I documented the actual death and dismemberment of the animal. I hoped that having my eye behind a camera lens would give me a layer of distance from the blood. However, in coming up to the event I decided that as a meat eater, I should bravely witness the full process of getting that meat on the table. It was difficult to see a magnificent animal letting go of life, but the man knew what he was doing, and it seemed that it was over in an instant. Next began the stripping away of everything until I could hardly connect the meat and wool to the creature that startled me in the stairway the night before.
You could compare l’eid kbir to Thanksgiving, in that one revolves around eating a sheep and the other around eating a turkey (I was asked by one of the boys if my dad slaughtered the turkey as they slaughter the sheep). Only, imagine the difference to be that the turkey is much bigger, much fattier, and the only thing on the menu for the next few days. The only thing you’ll see that resembles a vegetable is maybe the onion used to flavor the stomach and intestines.
Tired of meat? Well, I suppose there are plenty of sweets to enjoy as well. Yesterday we had noodles with raisins, cinnamon, and sugar to complement fried lamb ribs. It was good in a rich breakfast food sort of way. For dinner we had the head and the…ahem…testicles, although I avoided my slice (it is one of the last things I’m hanging on to as what I will not eat, since I unwittingly caved and ate brains a few times). We have plenty of meat to last quite some time, and considering it is couscous Friday I’m sure we will see some of our friend buried in the couscous for lunch.
All in all, it is an interesting experience with culture, and I enjoy the festive atmosphere and company. Just think, Christmas is just around the corner! I hope you all back home are getting into another sort of holiday spirit!
I am currently serving in Peace Corps, Morocco, as a small business developer working with artisans since September 2008. I have a Master of Fine Art, in studio art from Washington University in St. Louis.