Friday, February 19, 2010

The Quick and the Halal


I already told you, I won't do fast food in Philadelphia. I don't count Crown Fried Chicken as fast food.

North Philly was an exciting place to move to, and a daunting one at the age of 18. Suddenly in the island nation of Temple University, surrounded by a sea of resentful hostility, a newly christened adult searches for pieces of home. This is where my lifelong detachment from the 'community' did me no good. I had plenty of white friends, a rag tag grab bag of crackers I was lucky to have on my floor, but my track suit and pseudo-afro didn't match the popped collars and hair gel of the browns in business school with me. My mom's sheltering me from the double-talk world of desi socializing had left me without the tools to find that kind of home at college. I didn't bother trying, and not trying didn't bother me.

At some point I ventured into the now closed Crown at 13th and Girard. The man behind the counter bore the immediately recognizable tint that was my uncle, my cousin, my grandma's driver, a shopkeeper at Jinnah Market, the one leading namaz, staring back at what he pegged to be a Puerto Rican kid in a Puma jacket. I opened my mouth and squeezed out a crumbling Urdu introduction, and he lit up. We carried my most pleasant Philadelphia conversation to that date and he gave me a free side. It was enough to bring me back regularly.

On subsequent visits, I learned that my friend was a Pakistani working for an Afghani family, and that most of the Crowns in the city were owned by Middle Eastern Muslims and only served halal food. I'd never bothered to stay halal before, and it felt somehow right just to have something halal once in a while. I'd walk in and relief would wash over his face. I was the break in the string of intentionally obnoxious hoodrats that comprise Crown's customer base. Sooner than later, my friends were accompanying me to this very Crown, and they hit it up on their own, and we hit up other Crowns in the city. It became a standard meal in a time past mom's cooking and cafeteria plans.

Years later, I mentioned to a Crown loving buddy of mine that what he was consuming was, in fact, halal. As my eyes were fixed on his chewing profile, he continued staring at the TV and allowed a 'hm' of acknowledgment. He absolutely did not give a shit, and neither did I.

Perhaps that's America for you. Muslims in America tread pretty softly compared to other minorities, but it seems that every step taken by the Islamic minority in France is amplified exponentially. Following the decision of some Quick fast food joints to offer a fully halal menu, the French government is up in arms and calling discrimination. People are losing their minds because they feel like their fast food options are being taken over, the menu contents altered forever into an array of edibles sanctioned by a religion that isn't theirs, not realizing that they wouldn't be able to taste more god in one than another in a blind taste test.

For a country that eats goose organs, it seems a little prude. Maybe France should step out a little.

"I don't eat ___ because it's ___"

That's exactly what I said, and look at me now.

4 comments:

  1. This is one of the best posts so far. You're taking the whole concept that much farther. Keep going!
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  2. Makkah Market advertise itself as one of the most trusted supplier of Halal Food Philadelphia by offering Halal food i.e. permitted or lawful food to all the Muslims.
    Halal food Philadelphia

    ReplyDelete
  3. Makkah Market advertise itself as one of the most trusted supplier of Halal Food Philadelphia by offering Halal food i.e. permitted or lawful food to all the Muslims.
    Halal Food Philadelphia

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is one of the best posts so far. You're taking the whole concept that much farther. Keep going!
    Halal Food Philadelphia

    ReplyDelete