Eating out for Iftar, always a great idea in theory… So for those of you who don’t know, we’re over halfway through Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.
It involves abstaining from food and drink for around 19 hours a day, everyday, for a month. This means that you can only eat after sunset and before sunrise, which in London time, means between around 9.25pm and 2.35am. During this five hour window, naturally we opt to eat as much as we can. However in reality, we can only muster 1.5 meals, a feast to open our fast – called iftar – and a 2am light bite. I call it light because at that unsociable hour, my body rejects anything beyond porridge and milk.
However, a fateful trap we consistently fall into night after night is developing eyes bigger than our bellies.
I mean, during the 19hr fast, everything looks good. Food shopping is never a wise idea as you’ll come back with a truckload of food you didn’t need and won’t be able to eat.
But my bigger Achilles heel is eating out for Iftar. You may have guessed from the bulging food section of this blog that I like my dinner. So walking past restaurants in East London, most of which have iftar specials, is torturous.
So of course, it often makes sense to rock up to such places to open our fast. However, the 15-item buffet isn’t such a good idea when you realise that you’re stomach and appetite has shrunk and you can barely muster the stamina to sit up and appreciate your meal.
During Ramadan, you’re hungry, lethargic and not the best company. So sitting in a restaurant, even with fellow fasters isn’t such a good idea.
And if you happen to go to a sit down non-buffet restaurant, therein lies another problem, ensuring that you’re food comes out on time. Not too soon so you have to look at it, but not so slowly that you’ll miss your fast end time (during Ramadan, it’s advised that you eat exactly on sunset time).
We had one such issue when dining at Wagamama. It seemed like a greet idea at the time to try something different to the usual curry house. Precariously booking half an hour before, our best laid plans fell to the wayside when we ended up ordering late, and had to nibble on a small stock of nuts while we waited for glasses of water.
To make matters worse, the food wasn’t really up to scratch.
As a group of five, we shared starters of skewered prawns, fried pastry filled with prawn (do you see a theme here?) and mushroom onigiri. While the starters were ok, none of us were overly impressed with our mains.
The firecracker prawn was the best dish, Sorendra tilapia fish curry was flavoursome but I didn’t like the texture of the crispy fried fish, and the two soups we ordered were bland at best, bitter at worst.
So a late iftar while others around you are tucking in isn’t great. Plus the thing with eating after a 19hr break is that after a plate of food, you just want to lie down like a slug. Being in a civilised restaurant where you can’t take your shoes off doesn’t help.
But of course, the following day you forget all of this, and are happy to gorge outdoors again. On that note, I best log off as I’m of to a buffet for Iftar.