Nîmes: Ramadan experienced by Maghreb restaurateurs

During this Muslim holiday, oriental restaurateurs adapt. Depending on the clientele, some modify their offers or their opening hours. Pastries in particular are very popular during this period.

Ramadan is celebrated this year from April 1 to May 1. The fasting period has an influence on several oriental restaurants.

The Alcazar, for example, has seen its clientele increase. An increase attributed mainly to the consumption of pastries, according to Mr Bensherifa, the manager. The Alcazar is indeed renowned for its sweet dishes, which are found in large numbers on North African tables when the fast is broken. A tradition according to this Tunisian, who affirms: “You have to have pastry with the meal.” Result: cakes that he sold only by the piece, now he sells them by the kilo.

The restaurant La Méditerranée has also made some changes to its menu: “A lot of dishes that we don’t usually do: chicken legs in sauce, sea bream in a tagine, mini pizzas…” Bouhou Erradi, the owner, has changed his hours and services. Usually open at lunchtime and in the evening, it has decided to only sell take-out, from 2 p.m., throughout the Ramadan period. He estimates that 65 to 70% of his clientele is of North African origin. As this tends to break the fast at home, with the family, Mr. Erradi quickly does the math: “If I open just for 35 people, I’m a loser!”

The success of oriental dishes with Europeans weighs in the balance. Some restaurants, in the city center in particular, have not changed their operation on the occasion of Ramadan. This is the case of Epicurean and Mogador, which insist on their cosmopolitan clientele. One of the servers even claims that the restaurant “does not want to be community-based”.

L’Alcazar has not modified its savory offer: “North Africans don’t order couscous, they do it at home,” smiles Mr. Bensherifa. It’s rather his European clientele who loves this typical dish. However, during Ramadan, the trend is reversed: North African customers are more numerous, but for sweets.

The manager of the Alcazar, although trained in Tunisia, admits to having adapted his recipes to French consumers. Among other things, he reduced the amount of sugar and salt compared to the original recipes. Also for spices, but to a lesser extent. He reminds many Europeans like their dish spicy, sometimes more than the Maghrebians themselves: “people travel a lot these days…”

The café brasserie l’Alcazar opens every day at 6:30 a.m. On weekdays, closes at 7 p.m., Thursday Friday Saturday at 10 p.m., Sunday at 3 p.m. Contact: 04 66 36 80 02.

During the month of Ramadan, La Méditerranée restaurant is open for take-out only, from 2 p.m. to 11 p.m. Contact: 06 65 91 51 67

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