Food and Ramadhan: How do you value the food you have for breaking your fast?


Indonesians breaking Ramadhan's fasting at a fast-food restaurant.

In my facebook news feed this morning, there was a photo showing how Indonesians were lining up in a restaurant to make a food order for them to break their fast (buka puasa) during the month of Ramadhan.

For some of you who may not be familiar with how we buka puasa, there is a very specific time that together all moslems will buka puasa; that is, at a sunset time.  This specific timing allows us to  gather with coworkers, family members, school friends, or any other community groups.  We celebrate the success of completing a one-full day of fasting by enjoying a variety of food prepared for that gathering.  For a few different reasons, the food can be prepared individually, collaboratively by themselves, or by a catering service provider.

As soon as I saw that photo, especially in the foreground where a group of people had to stay on the floor because they were not able to secure a table for them to enjoy their meals, my mind immediately thought about another unique moment during the month Ramadhan, also related with food.

As you can see in the photo, it is an informal market where people are selling a variety of traditional food so that moslems can celebrate their one-full day of fasting with traditional meals.  The photo shown above was taken from a neighborhood area called Kauman in Yogyakarta.  There is a special story about this informal market (in Bahasa Indonesia).

This type of informal market during the month of Ramadhan is all over the city in Yogyakarta.  Since I was born and raised in Yogyakarta, I am not sure how people in other cities in Indonesia is celebrating their buka puasa.  Another similar informal market is at Jalur Gaza, Sorogenen Nitikan (Jalur Gaza: Jajanan Lauk, Sayur, Gubug Ashar Zerba Ada, also in Bahasa Indonesia).

My point is, perhaps because I now still live in the United States, so I am biased in a way that I miss so much traditional food especially during this month of Ramadhan.  But I am very sad to see how Indonesians are lining up in a fast food restaurant despite all the controversies about the food quality, the health impacts, and the economy impacts, to list a few.  I am very sad that fast food restaurants have replaced, I am sure it is not entirely, the delicious traditional food that I know I enjoyed very much during my time in Yogyakarta.

And I am not saying that these people did not have other options, maybe because they did not have time to prepare their food, or on their trip to another place so that they were not able to have proper food at home or some places.  Also, I am not saying that traditional food always offer more nutritious than the food provided by fast food restaurants.  But I am just sad in how these two photos show very different set of values offered through food in the month of Ramadhan.