By Al Mohamed
I have a very pragmatic approach to religion and consider my relationship with God to be very personal. I do not like to discuss it (other than when I’m writing a blog whilst doing laundry) with anyone, lest they feel I’m on some Jihadist mission to convert them by fire.
Which brings us to Ramadan. I often get questions about how great it is that I take a break from the things I shouldn’t for a month for whatever reason they think I’m doing it. This article is not going to explain why. That’s my own damn business. It will explain what, however. Let’s break it down, ManBQue style:
If there’s one thing that I miss during a month of only eating the things the man in the sky wants me to eat, it’s encased meats. They say that ignorance is bliss, and it really is when it comes to sausage. I never know what exactly is in that perfectly grilled or steamed casing and I never really need to. I personally find myself blessed to live in such close proximity to such great sources of these tubes of joy and expect a joy-filled jaunt over to the rooftop at any number of local eateries after Eid (the holiday at the end of Ramadan) rolls around. Summer just ain’t summer without beers and brats.
Pick: Weisswurst. This white, German sausage is light and full of porky goodness without being overbearing. The inclusion of veal keeps things tender while a little parsley goes a long way in terms of flavor. When day drinking, I go for this one as I find it less likely to make me yearn for a disco nap.
While I’m not a raging alcoholic who gets the shakes after a weekend or two without alcohol, it is definitely something I miss. Throughout my lifetime, Ramadan has shifted throughout the seasons as it is based on a lunar calendar and slides back a couple weeks every year. I’m sure the big man is quite pleased with his testing of my spirits by moving me to a major city with a fully developed beer scene right when the holy month is in the dead center of summer.
Beer isn’t really about getting drunk or making an ass of myself, though. There are better tools for getting drunk and no tools necessary for making an ass of myself.
No, there’s something about beer that says “SUMMER.” You might think of beer in the way that the major brewers’ ads want you to think of it as: Hangin with your bros at the lake and crackin’ open a cold one right as some bikini clad women magically levitate out of the surface of said lake.
That is rad in its own right, but my picture paints a bit more like this: it’s a solid triple digit day. Being from Florida, I’m used to them but it sure is different in a city, surrounded by concrete and asphalt. Work is just absolutely destroying my soul and it takes well over an hour to get home because of traffic or errands or whatever else the universe has put between me and my air conditioner. Walk in the door and swing open that fridge.
Now, we have the moment that happens after you pass the Sunny D commercial phase of your life: what to drink? Water? Juice? Purple stuff? AWESOME, MOM GOT BEER!
Pick: Southern Tier Hopsun. It always bugged me that a brewery from upstate New York was called “Southern” Tier, but they make a damn fine wheat ale regardless of location. While some will swear by your run of the mill, mass market swill for summer cookouts and lake/beach trips, I’ll be sticking with this. Wheat and barley keep things light and drinkable while the slight hop profile will remind you that you’re drinking an actual beer that tastes good with things. Do not try to shotgun the glass bottle.
Rock & Roll
Ok, I’ll admit this one is a stretch for me. There’s nothing that says Muslims have to give up entertainment for the month that I’m aware of, but I do find myself trying to be a little more mindful of the messages and imagery I’m inundating myself with on a daily basis. Being a fan of absolute trash music (see above approval by Slick Willie), this can prove troublesome.
One thing that I do actively try to reign in for the month is unnecessary spending on frivolous things. There are so many things in our lives that we don’t really need but damn it all to hell if life doesn’t seem better once you get it. When it comes to music, the equipment you are using to get that music is just the same. Sure you can blare the latest through the tiny, buzzing ear buds that came with your smartphone, but a proper set of headphones are so much better. All TVs come with speakers (shut up. If they don’t , it’s not a TV it is a monitor/display), but sounds infinitely better with a sound bar or surround system.
Is any of it necessary? No, but this drives me as nuts as some people swear up and down that they don’t see a difference between HD and standard definition video. Do yourself a solid and invest in some quality audio somewhere in your life. Whether it be ditching the paper cone speakers in the car for some middle of the road components or taking your smartphone out of the mason jar that Pinterest told you would make it sound better playing music, an audio upgrade in some part of your life will make you more mindful of the work that someone, whether it be the artist or the producer or someone else, put in to the music.
Pick: Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth Speaker. I typically hate Bose products and find them to be overpriced status symbols. Just hearing “Bose” makes me think of someone blaring awful music out of a mid-90’s Nissan Maxima and believing that it sounds good.
Full Disclosure: I don’t own this product. I know a few people that do and have spent a couple beers around them. The sound quality on this thing is amazing when you compare it to what else is on the market. Full, rich bass and crisp, clear midrange bring life to your spotify playlists like the aforementioned mason jar never could. A tad pricey at $199, but it definitely feels like a 2-Benjamin piece with Solid construction and performance that delivers. It’s definitely on my list of things to buy before the summer is over.