Magazine article The New Yorker

The Talk of the Town: Cleats, Dates, and Goats

Magazine article The New Yorker

The Talk of the Town: Cleats, Dates, and Goats

Article excerpt

During Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, if a man can't get home for iftar, the meal that breaks the daily sunrise-to-sunset fast, he can stop in a mosque to eat. Often, following the example of the prophet Muhammad, he'll start with a single date and a glass of water. But if a Muslim doesn't want to go home right away after, say, three hours of soccer, then a sports drink and a cigarette on the sidelines will do.

It was late afternoon on an unusu- ally warm fall day in Prospect Park, and a handful of men who had just fin- ished playing were sitting on the grass behind their makeshift goal. "I've lost some weight this Ramadan, maybe five pounds," Salle Colagi, a stocky forty-year-old computer-networking engineer from Yemen, said. He lifted his jersey and took a piece of flesh in his fist. "But back in my village I might lose fifteen pounds during the whole month. That's not from soccer, just from fasting."

"In Egypt, everyone gains weight," Said El-Deeb, a medical student from Alexandria, said. "You sit in a cafe until midnight and then you go to friends' houses and eat till two in the morning or later. Then you sleep some and wake up before sunrise to have some cheese or yogurt to get you through the day."

"Yeah, it's a well-known rule," Hafid Elbroji, a thirty-one-year-old from Casablanca, Morocco, said. "In the Muslim world, Muslims gain weight, but when they're living in the States they lose weight. Over there unemployment is so high that a lot of people, especially young guys, sit around all day playing cards and thinking about food. …

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