The Ramadhan Diaries

Fasting in London and beyond

Iftar Day Two

This one was spent mostly with my hands over my eyes. I was watching the Algeria v Germany match at an Algerian friend’s house. I had the full DZ experience which included going to a local Algerian butchers to buy meat and then onto a fantastic Algerian cake shop to buy some delicate little pretty cakes, Algerian style. The shop was just a gallery of naughty sweet stuff made to look like little works of art. 

Algerian flags were out everywhere and in the Finsbury Park part of London, where Algerians are a small but concentrated community, the anticipation for the coming match hung in the air. Excited chatter over the counter as Iftar preps were being made.

It was then home to cook and I made shorba and some lamb with chickpeas. We cheated and bought the lamb borek – filo pastry with a filling of mince. 

For once it all turned out as it should in terms of the food and with time to spare but sadly the football didn’t. Algeria played well, the goal keeper was superb but the outcome of a 2:1 win to Germany in extra time has meant the end of Algeria’s 2014 World Cup journey. Interesting though that their presence here brought to the pundit discussions the topic of religion – Adrian Chiles from ITV referred to the fans’ hand gestures to the ‘face and the sky’ and the commentator mentioned the debate about whether the Algerian footballers should or should not be fasting. There was an update of what Ramadan actually means for those that might have missed that. 

I’m writing this sipping water as I am too full to eat but aware I need to hydrate, as I watch the news. BBC News’ Olly Foster in Brazil  describes the Algeria Germany match with evident respect. He says it was the most fantastic 0-0 match ever in the World Cup, where the Algerian’s took the Germans by storm in 90 mins. It really was quite something and they fought so well. The tears at the end from the coach, Valid Halilhodzic and the players were shared by many. I think the Algerians – both the players and the fans – have really won the hearts of many. They have earnt respect.

And now as the American team prepares for it’s match against Belgium – the US coach, Jurgen Klinsmann has expressed concern about the Algerian referee, Djamel Haimouidi assigned to their match. He says it’s because Haimoudi will be better able to communicate with Belgium and that the US knocked out Algeria in 2010. The Algerian world cup discourse continues.Image

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