Brik is a Trick : Back to Basics With Ayurveda

~Back to basics with Tunisian blackberries 'Toute'...

~Back to basics with Tunisian blackberries 'Toute'...

My body and I were not prepared for Ramadan in Tunisia. Everything changes but you…we’re a thousand miles away but I still love you (as the song so beautifully goes). The working day begins and finishes super early and fasting is from sunrise to sundown. Dinner each night is notoriously large, alcohol disappears from the menu and festivities continue into the early hours!

Come sun down, I embraced the feasting and ate everything that was put in front of me, including the fried folded bread filled with tuna, potato, egg and herbs. Enter The Brik. It looks so delicious, so innocent and is eaten between the starter of soup and the main course. The brik is in fact a meal in itself. Nobody informs you of this, you and your belly must discover this all by yourself. It is deceptively filling but you continue to eat because technically you have only had a starter and the main course and dessert is still to come.

The brik slips in between courses, brings delight to all that bite into it’s crispy coat, but for the unpractised, it will undo you every time. Four briks in, I soon got wise to it’s power and began approaching each Ramadan meal fully prepared for that moment between starter and main course, ready to use my own power of resistance and just say lé!

Though I say everything changes but you, actually as my experience of Ramadan continued I realised this was not totally true. The day’s new rhythm is very different and I found I changed with it. Even without fasting I found myself extremely thirsty during the day and consuming more water, I was ready for a siesta around three when the working day ended and come sun down I was super hungry.

...fresh bread (not the whole loaf mind) with olive oil and harissa...

...fresh bread (not the whole loaf mind) with olive oil and harissa...

The movement of Ramadan that sweeps across the country then, seems impossible not to be affected by. The sudden shift in day to day life for everyone you know and those you do not but live alongside, sweeps you along to.

As I moved to this new daily rhythm I struggled to find routine and felt my body trying to catch up. I woke up many a morning feeling unrested, heavy, with head aching. These physical signs were my body speaking. I had fallen out of love and in to imbalance and it didn’t feel good. 

I noticed this was true for my partner too. We were running on empty and we took it out on each other. With not much being good to ourselves happening, being good to each other became more difficult. Giving ourselves space and time to respond to each other changed to simply reacting. Reactions so fast that before we knew it we were at the mercy of our temper, our impatience, whatever it was, it was loaded with fear.

A week in and I stepped back and retreated within (at this point my partner wanted me to inform you that he also did the same). I ate a light dinner. I went to sleep early and woke up naturally and light. I moved my body first thing and ate the breakfast that makes me feel good. I reached out carefully and met up with a friend I knew would energise me. She filled me with love and in the kitchen inspired me.

...and putting the kettle on always helps. ~

...and putting the kettle on always helps. ~

I returned home hands filled with good food, unable to respond to my partner in any other way but with love. It did not feel necessary to resent or hold on to past disagreements; I was back in love and being good to me was not giving someone the silent treatment. This option so tempting to me in the past, brik-like in fact in its allure and seeming innocence! 

From this place of giving what I wished to receive, the most crystal clear conversation was had. We uncovered, unravelled and ravelled up together again, understood and seen by each other again. Honest and inevitable because we had returned to ourselves first.

From the perspective of Ayurveda, our daily routine and diet is directly linked to our state of mind and ever changing moods and emotions. The more I explore this ancient Indian healthcare system the more I understand that the choices I make everyday regarding my daily routine and diet, have a direct influence on my emotional state, how I interact in relationships and even my outlook on life. For instance when I choose to eat oily food late in the evening three nights in a row I sleep badly, I wake up groggy, I find myself snapping at people and I feel fearful. Making these links is a relief and more and more I feel less of a mystery to myself.

A book that has helped me tremendously in understanding what choices I can make everyday from an ayurvedic perspective is Body Thrive by Cate Stillman. It is highly readable and the content empowers and inspires you to choose how you do what you do everyday from an informed place. 

…..And if that choice happens to be brik everyday for a month then brilliant! It becomes an informed decision and the impact of brik (or whatever your brik of choice is) on your life beyond the dinner table is less surprising and more understood as you make links for yourself, holding you in your hands, this slightly less mysterious you.