Friday night's Iftar dinner was especially delicious--not just the food, but the opportunity to learn what the Ramadan fast observed by Muslims means. It's a spiritual tool, not a way to punish body and soul.
Although I'm not Muslim, I almost wanted to share in the fast, because the concept as it was explained during the program seemed so meaningful.
Iftar is the name of the meal eaten after sunset to end the daily fast, which starts at sunrise. During those hours, no food or liquid is consumed. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, ends tonight.
This dinner was arranged for the San Fernando Valley community by Pacifica Institute in Northridge. I was invited because I attend Pacifica's Turkish cooking classes.
We also snacked on cigar borek (above), so named because the cheese-filled dough is tightly rolled like a cigar. Other dishes held pita bread, fresh fruit and dates, which Islamic people like to eat as they break their fast.
Also traditional for Iftar is lentil soup, and we ate a lemon-flavored version so delicious that I hope my teacher will include it in her lessons.
Then we were given plates loaded with chicken and beef doner, which is meat cooked on a spit, each type with its own seasonings (above). This was contributed by Jerusalem Pita Grill, which is inside Valley Produce Marketplace in Reseda.
Except for the meats, the food had been prepared and donated by Turkish women affiliated with Pacifica (above). This is why it tasted so good. The spirit of sharing and hospitality, coupled with the meaning of the season, was the best seasoning a dinner could have.