Fast and fasting

This week’s puzzles took us from Ramadan to the racetrack

Published March 24, 2024

Happy Sunday everyone! Last week I was in Columbia, S.C., asking Irish trivia questions at the big St. Pat’s festival in town last Saturday. I think the players enjoyed it, though some were definitely hindered by the Irish whiskey being sold nearby. Hopefully, you sobered up enough to solve some crosswords this week. Let’s have a look!

Clues you can use

Tuesday, Mar. 19 (Vox, constructed by Juliana Tringali Golden)

Pre-sunrise meal eaten during Ramadan = SEHRI

Post-sunset meal eaten during Ramadan = IFTAR

Ramadan Mubarak! March 11 was the first night of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month that famously calls for fasting from dawn to dusk, with all meals consumed in the dark. Sehri (also spelled Suhur or Sahur) actually means “pre-dawn meal,” and often consists of fruits like dates, protein including yogurt and cheese, lean meats including chicken or fish, nuts, and legumes. Iftar (Iftor, Eftari – literally “breakfast”) is the post-dusk meal, which again starts with dates, followed by foods including paneer fritters, kebabs, and vegetable dishes. All of these meals are surrounded by prayer and other rites.

Maybe one of the best observations of human nature was reading a Reddit post with Muslims weighing in on what foods they eat for Sehri. More than one commenter noted that they don’t really do Sehri, opting to have a larger Iftar instead. Even for religious practitioners who can only have two meals a day for an entire month, people are still likely to skip breakfast.

Wednesday, Mar. 20 (USA Today, constructed by Amie Walker)

Ethereal alt-rock subgenre = SHOEGAZE

The 1991 album Loveless by the Irish band My Bloody Valentine is considered the pivotal release of the shoegaze genre. It takes its name from its performers often looking down, instead of out at the crowd–often at the arsenal of effects pedals required to get its spacy, distorted guitar tones. My Bloody Valentine seems to be the consensus greatest shoegaze band of all time, though other groups like Slowdive, Ride, Lush, and Cocteau Twins are often highly rated. This playlist features a great sampling of shoegaze music to get you in the mood (or at least a mood).

Thursday, Mar. 21 (New York Times, constructed by Joe Marquez)

___ Turismo (racing video game series) = GRAN

A long-running simulation franchise by the Sony-owned Tokyo studio Polyphony Digital, Gran Turismo debuted in 1997 for the original PlayStation (the most recent entry, GT 7, was released on the PlayStation 5 in 2022. The series has produced a number of records, from being the best-selling PS1 game of all time–and GT 2 is #3 on that list–to the Guinness record for biggest racing-game prize purse ($40,000, in 2006, for a GT 4 tournament). Competitions are still going strong; the most recent Gran Turismo World Series was held last December in Barcelona. And 2023 also saw the release of a GT film, based on the true story of the British teen who parlayed a tournament win into an actual racing career. Vroom!

Puzzle press

Some fun news from around the crossworld:

  • In an event that sadly was not called “Down by Down Backwards Across,” South by Southwest featured a crossword event. You can read a great write-up here, and the panel featured esteemed constructor Natan Last, whose work has been highlighted on this blog on multiple occasions.
  • Two big publications are changing how to solve puzzles. The New Yorker have introduced new mini-puzzles, and shaken up the difficulty of the others; meanwhile, The Boston Globe has made improvements to its platform that they say users have requested for some time. Click those links for more info!
  • And finally, this The Guardian posted a (somewhat belated) write-up of new words found in 2023 crosswords, by friend of the column Alan Connor. 

Next Sunday is already Easter, so hopefully we’ll find some nice Easter eggs in the puzzles this week. I’ll see you then!

Chris King is a longtime crossword commentator, and the author of five published puzzle books. His column appears on Questionist every Sunday. 

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