x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Ramadan is Everest on an empty stomach for a wife

The holy month can test the marriage bond to the limit if the night-time feasting is not approached sensibly.

If getting married has taught me anything, it's that Ramadan is the Mount Everest of the year for Mr T and me as a couple. If I can manage to get through the next 30 days without plotting Mr T's demise using a kitchen utensil, then our marriage is guaranteed to survive anything.

Last year's Ramadan was my first as a wife, and I had no idea what I was in for. With the end of the holy month, I was left with a renewed respect for my mother and every woman who is fasting while preparing daily meals for a family.

But first, some context.

Mr T and I are not the kind of couple who share cooking duties, mostly because my husband has yet to prove to me that he can cook anything other than a cup of instant coffee. I am the provider of food in this family of two, and he is the loader of the dishwasher, or the person that presses the "on" button on our electric kettle. Our arrangement works, at least for 11 months of the year.

Then Ramadan comes along, and if last year was anything to go by, I will be faced with an exhausting month of both physical and mental toil. Physical because the levels of fatigue I experience after a full day of work followed by hours in the kitchen is unprecedented. Mental because planning what to cook every single day, during a time of year when I detest eating out, is a formidable challenge.

Last year, I had a ridiculous amount of faith in my amateur cooking abilities. Why not invite friends for iftar every night, I suggested to Mr T, seeing as I was cooking dishes that required real ingredients, and not just preparing some instant noodles? We were booked solid for every night of that first week, and it was the biggest mistake I ever made.

To give him some credit, Mr T wanted nothing more than to ease the burden. He begged me to use paper plates. He said no more iftar invitations. He swore that a sandwich was all he needed to break the fast. And he researched the city's best iftar buffets.

The problem is, there is no time more nostalgic for me than Ramadan, when I struggle to recreate the warm and cosy atmosphere that is guaranteed around my own family's iftar table: my mother's hair curling from all the steam, as she leans over the pots and pans on her stove; my father chopping fresh green herbs for a fattoush that only he can make; one brother setting the table every evening, with such attention to detail you'd have thought we were expecting a king to join us for the meal; and the other complaining that his favourite cheese rolls are not on the evening's menu.

So night after night, I struggled to give Mr T a taste of that familial atmosphere. Suffice to say I failed miserably.

Which is why today, on the first day of the holy month, we're both playing it safe and leaving on a jet plane straight to my mother's dining room. Five days in Jordan should fuel me enough to get me through the rest of the month, and who knows? Mr T might learn a recipe or two while we're there.

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