When I was still a new revert to Islam and still a new bride, my husband, our 4 month old baby, and I moved about six hours away from my hometown. It was a big move for our little family but important so that my husband could complete his degree.
It was there that I met some of the people that I call my best friends, there that four of my six children were born, there that I matured from a young wife to the woman I am today. It was also there that I spent some of the most memorable Ramadans I have had.
Ramadan is the holy month of fasting in the Islamic lunar calendar. It is the month when the Quran was revealed. It is the month when the devils are locked up. It is a month for contemplation and growth and purification. A month for doing good deeds. And, for my brothers and sisters who grew up in Muslim households, it is a month for being with family.
In our new town, a small college town with a respectably large Muslim population, local mosques each hosted a nightly iftar or dinner for breaking the fast. This is a common practice at many mosques around the world, but normally frequented only by those who cannot afford to feed themselves. In contrast, the iftars in our new town were jam packed with students and their families--people who could afford to feed themselves, but hungered for a taste of family.
These iftars were hosted by a different person every night. One night might have seen Lebanese food served, another night Moroccan, another Egyptian, yet another Palestinian or Somali, or Turkish, or Kenyan, or Guyanian, or Pakistani, or Indian. American and Latin reverts also relished in sharing their culinary heritage. I can even recall Chinese food being served. But, unbelievably, it seemed every meal centered around a different way of preparing chicken and rice.
One evening towards the end of my first Ramadan in that little town, we sat after such a meal, relaxed and chatting. Our bellies full of food and warm with tea, a dear friend and I convulsed with laughter over some of the happy moments we had shared that month. And wondered if we'd ever be able to look at chicken and rice again. We decided that "30 Ways to Eat Chicken and Rice" would be an brilliant title for a book.
And so, the concept for this blog was born.