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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Ramadan the ninth month of the lunar Muslim calendar. During these 29 or 30 days, from one new moon to the next, the faithful fast from dawn to dusk, abstaining from food, drink, tobacco, and sexual activity as long as there is sufficient light to enable the eye to distinguish between a black and a white thread held at arm’s length. In practice, the fast is governed by the morning and evening calls to prayer. Suhur, the early morning meal, must be finished before dawn; most Islamic countries have traditional foods for suhur, but city dwellers nowadays tend to eat a normal breakfast, often made up from the previous evening’s leftovers. Towards the hour of maghrib, the sunset prayer, food is made ready; cooks may taste, as long as they do not swallow. When the signal is given, by beating a drum, firing a cannon, or an announcement on radio and TV, everyone drinks a glass of water and eats something sweet before attending household or communal prayers and then launching into the evening meal.