On Wednesday, Muslims across the world celebrated Eid al-Adha, the Festival of Sacrifice, commemorating Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Luckily for Ishmael, God intervened at the last minute and provided a ram for Ibrahim to slaughter instead.
Unluckily for rams across the world, however, this practice is still honored today.
As the customs goes, every family is to slaughter an animal on the day and keep 30% for themselves, give 30% to friends and family and donate another 30% to the poor and needy. The animal-to-be-slaughtered can be chosen based on tastes or availability. A goat is a common substitute for those who like a leaner meat, and camels and cows are also often used, as well.
At about 11 am we slaughtered our ram. By “we” I mean a neighbor and my hosts’ son. The rams feet were tied and after a short prayer and kiss from the matriarch, its neck was slit and snapped in a quick manner and then allowed to bleed out and more prayers and ululations ensued! As the blood flowed we tried to push some of it into the bathroom where the drain is located, but one of the sisters was using the toilet as we were doing this and later gave us an earful about seeing a cascade of blood coming pouring around her feet from under the door.
After the body was drained the animal was hoisted up and skinned. The butcher, in about 30 minutes was able to remove the whole skin in one piece and remove the organs. After the butcher was thanked in cookies, the matriarch of the house went to collecting the organs. I helped clean up the blood off the floor, but I was more squeamish about cleaning out the contents of the rams stomach and intestines.
The Eid is celebrated for three days, and each day has a unique culinary tradition here in Morocco. On the first day, the liver, stomach and heart are eaten. My hosts for the Eid made the traditional kebabs of liver chunks wrapped in fat for lunch and for dinner there was a stew of stomach, heart and lungs.
On the second and third days, finer cuts of meat are eaten but the bottom line is that nothing gets wasted. The head of the ram is usually burned on an open charcoal pit so that the brains may be extracted. With that said, I’ll be eating steamed head tonight!