baa baa

(written on 12/31, posted on 12/2 when internet returned)

On the site of the subtitle is “Sheep are for Eid,” and that is certainly true. The following is not for the weak of heart or the vegans among us…

I’m not sure when I’ll actually be able to post this, as we’re still without internet and phone (a friend of my brother-in-law who works for the phone co. identified which pole is the problem, but didn’t have a ladder tall enough, and well it’s Eid and then the 2nd day of the Eid and then New Year’s, so best-case scenario we’ll have all back on Wednesday). At least we had water today, because we needed it…

Up bright and early to peek on on our little (big) lamb. After the Eid prayer, which only the men attended…women in this family stay home, much to my disappointment, all the fun began. Was on the fence (no pun intended) about watching the actual murder, I mean slaughter, but was pulled away at the last second so when I rejoined I found the whole family in the garage struggling to lift up a semi-skinned lamb while my mother-in-law charred the skin & hair off the head and hooves on a little butane burner. The actual égorgement happened in the garden, but the skinning and gutting was done in the garage (don’t really know why). Apparently the lamb was surprisingly docile (it hadn’t been up until then) and nearly offered itself up for slaughter without so much as a bleat or an attempted head butt (no Zidane jokes here, please). It was my brother-in-law’s first time doing the dreadful deed on his own and he did an admirable job, even though I kept calling him “heart of stone” in my garbled arabic (something like “gelb hajar”) to tease him for days before.

Once skinned the carcass (yes, my dear sweet lambie, who we call “Jimbo” has now officially become a carcass) the guts were removed, a huge steamy mess of intestines, organs and other unidentifiable stuff. These were then brought out again to the garden, where they were cleaned. Both the stomach and the intestines were cleaned by flushing them out full force with water from the faucet. The stomach produced a massive flood of brown muddy water mixed with partially digested hay (all the hay we’d hand fed the poor little thing). The intestines needed some squeezing, and produced a long stream of poop pellets. The whole matter was really quite messy and I admired their stoicism as they calmly splashed around in the poop and bile and water and bleach while I watched cautiously from afar.

Lunch was organs: liver, lungs, kidneys, it all looked the same, charred on the small hibachi grill and served in French bread with loads of harissa. It was quite good but I did get a bit squeamish when my mind flashed back to visions of the little cutie who lived in our garden for a few days. Then the house was cleaned and the carcass was placed on a plastic sheet in the entryway of the house, right by the stairway that I use 500 times a day, so that each time I passed I looked at little Jimbo as he “dried” as they explained, but rotted in my mind, his little testicles hanging sadly near his open ribcage. The fridge is full of plates holding brains and stomach and intestines.

Tomorrow is couscous made with the shoulder and my other brother-in-law will come to cut up the remaining meat. The rest of the day and into the night was spent receiving guests and discussing in great detail the slaughtering of everyone’s lambs and how it went.

To top off all the bizarreness of the day, I heard (don’t know how, no internet, no phone, but yes, Algerian TV) that Saddam Hussein was hanged today. A horrible choice of an execution day, no doubt…rather insulting I’d say, and clearly not the right message to send to the Muslim world, already so angered with Americans. Oh, and Bouteflika did not, it turns out, go to hajj, as I saw him on tv at the L’Aid prayer in Algiers. Now I am beginning to understand that just because it’s published in the Algerian newspaper doesn’t mean it’s at all confirmed by anyone in particular.

Happy Eid to all.

No comments: